Background

Action Sheet

  • Location :
    Philippine
  • Species status :
  • Period :

Sponsor

The Philippine crocodile Crocodylus mindorensis is a critically endangered species endemic to the Philippine archipelago. The Mabuwaya Foundation aims to conserve the Philippine crocodile in the wild in the northern Sierra Madre on Luzon in cooperation with rural communities and local governments. Here a small and fragmented Philippine crocodile population survives in wetlands that are intensively used by people. Most people living in these areas live under the poverty threshold of less that 1 US$ a day. Rural communities and local governments in the Sierra Madre have taken important steps to protect the Philippine crocodile in the wild. But people question why the costs of protecting this global conservation priority should be paid by poor local people.

The proposed project aims to reward rural communities for conserving the species in the wild. Every year the Mabuwaya Foundation will count the number of Philippine crocodiles in the wild in cooperation with local wardens and forest guards of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). Based on these participatory counts the village will receive a cash donation for every Philippine crocodile that survives in their village: a clear and direct incentive for rural communities to protect crocodiles. This money can be used for local development priorities (like painting the school, organizing the annual fiesta, bringing a sick person to the hospital, etc.). Above all the payment is a recognition of people’s efforts to protect the critically endangered Philippine crocodile in the wild.

Here Mabuwaya Foundation proposes a 5 year pilot project to provide direct payments to rural communities for protecting crocodiles: Cash for Communities Conserving Crocodiles (4Cs).[1] The proposed 4Cs project is inspired by the 4Ps program of the Philippine Government (Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, see http://pantawid.dswd.gov.ph/). This successful project of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) provides conditional cash grants to extremely poor households to improve health, nutrition and education. The 4Ps program is effectively alleviating poverty. We will adopt this approach to conserve the Philippine crocodile in the wild.

* In Filipino the project will be called 4Bs: Barya para Bayan Bantayan Buwaya

Field operator

Mabuwaya Foundation

The Mabuwaya Foundation implements an in-situ conservation program for the Philippine crocodile in the northern Sierra Madre on Luzon (Philippines). The conservation program has 4 components:

  1. Research: the foundation aims to generate the necessary scientific information to design effective conservation interventions. Researchers and students from Isabela State University and Leiden University in the Netherlands are involved to study the ecology of this little known species and the circumstances in which it survives (see also: http://cml.leiden.edu/research/conservation/landuse/finished/croc.html and http://www.mabuwaya.org).
  2. Public awareness campaign: the foundation aims to mobilize broad public support for Philippine crocodile conservation. In cooperation with Isabela State University education materials are designed and distributed in the Sierra Madre (see also: https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/handle/1887/13055).
  3. Protection: in cooperation with local governments and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) the foundation aims to protect critical freshwater wetland habitat: local governments have proclaimed 20 sanctuaries and banned the use of destructive fishing. The Philippine crocodile is the flagship species for wetland conservation (ecosystem approach).
  4. Re-enforcement: the foundation aims to facilitate the recovery of the species in the wild. A nest protection and head-start program was set up in San Mariano to increase egg and hatchling survival (see also: https://openaccess.leidenuniv.nl/handle/1887/14505). In 2009 50 captive-bred Philippine crocodiles were re-introduced in Dicatian Lake in the municipality of Divilacan (see also http://www.iucnredlist.org/news/recovery-plan-for-philippine-crocodiles).

As a result of these conservation efforts the Philippine crocodile population in the northern Sierra Madre is recovering (Figure 1). Linking Philippine crocodile conservation to rural livelihoods is essential to assure the continued support of rural communities and local governments. But generating benefits for rural communities remains a major challenge. Securing economic returns through the development of ecotourism enterprises is not a viable option in most areas of the northern Sierra Madre. Rural communities profit from crocodile conservation through improved fish catches* but these benefits are indirect. Integrated conservation and development projects (ICDPs) such as developing alternative livelihood activities (such as developing agroforestry farms) or improving basic services (such as building a school or water pumps) often fail and are not directly linked to conservation.

* Fishermen report increased fish catches as a result of the no-fishing zones and the ban on fishing with dynamite, electricity or chemicals

Objectives

The goal of the project is to provide a financial incentive for rural communities to protect the critically endangered Philippine crocodile in the wild.

The project has 3 objectives :

  1. Monitor the Philippine crocodile population in the northern Sierra Madre.
  2. Provide a direct payment to rural communities based on the number of crocodiles surviving in the wild.
  3. Mobilize broad public support by disseminating information on Philippine crocodile conservation to rural communities and local governments

Actions

  1. Participatory monitoring of the Philippine crocodile population: every year the project will monitor the Philippine crocodile population in the northern Sierra Madre in cooperation with DENR and rural communities. The crocodile specialist will spend 3 nights in every site and conduct spotlight night surveys and daylight track surveys to count crocodiles in cooperation with 2 DENR forest guards and 4 local wardens (Bantay Sanktuwaryo). In addition the survey team will document land use changes and assess threats using the national Biodiversity Monitoring System (BMS) methodology.
  2. Crocodile reward: the Mabuwaya Foundation will pay PhP. 1,000 per crocodile surviving in the wild to the barangay development fund based on the results of the annual participatory monitoring.
  3. Community dialogues: the results of the annual participator monitoring program will be discussed with the community. The crocodile reward will be ceremonially handed over to the barangay officials in the presence of the entire community to be deposited in the Village Development Fund. Specific solutions will be formulated to mitigate the threats to the Philippine crocodiles. During the meetings the community organizer will also lecture about legislation protecting crocodiles in the wild.
  4. Training: at the start of the project a training workshop will be organized for DENR forest guards and the local wardens to practice monitoring skills. The training will take place in the Disulap River Philippine Crocodile Sanctuary. The community organizer and crocodile specialist will facilitate the training and invite national specialists.
  5. Workshop DENR: 2 workshops will be held with DENR officials (from national, regional, provincial and district level) to disseminate information and secure support. One meeting will be held at the start of the project (2011) and one mid-term (2014). The community organizer will facilitate these meetings and will provide annual updates to the DENR.
  6. Workshops LGUs: 2 workshops (2011 & 2014) will be held in the 4 municipalities were the Philippine crocodile occurs (Maconacon, Divilacan, Palanan and San Mariano) to disseminate information on the Philippine crocodile population and secure continued support. The community organizer will facilitate these meetings and provide annual updates to the LGUs.
  7. Workshops Provincial Government: 2 workshops (2011 & 2014) will be held with the provincial governor to disseminate information and secure financial support. The community organizer will facilitate these meetings and provide annual updates to the Provincial Government.
  8. Presentations PAMB: every year the results of the annual monitoring program will be presented to the Protected Area Management Board of the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park by the community organizer. This will keep regional policymakers informed on the progress of the project.
  9. Creation Philippine crocodile conservation fund: an endowment fund will be established to secure the continuity of the Philippine crocodile conservation program after 2015. Potential donors (government, corporations, individuals) will be approached to donate to the Philippine crocodile conservation fund.

Output

The pilot project will facilitate a recovery of the Philippine crocodile in the wild. The aim is to have 200 non-hatchling crocodiles in the wild in 2015 in the northern Sierra Madre. In addition the project will raise awareness on the plight of the Philippine crocodile and actively engage rural communities and local governments in conservation action by providing a financial incentive. The project will also provide accurate information on the population status of the Philippine crocodile in and around the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park, which will be disseminated to partners (DENR, LGUs, provincial government) and published in the IUCN Crocodile Specialist Group newsletter and relevant (academic) journals. The project will aim to secure the financial continuity of crocodile conservation efforts in the northern Sierra Madre.

News

- In September, 2012 -

In Philippines, the 3 nests that had been identified last June by our partner Mabuwaya in the village of Cadsalan and protected by villagers, have all hatched successfully last summer. In total, 38 crocodiles came out of their egg in only one week.

Community sanctuary guard catching hatchlings to raise them in captivity and then to re-introduce them in the wild (© Mabuwaya)

- In July, 2012 -

Concrete repercussion of the meeting of the Crocodile Specialist Group in Manila

Last May, the FDB and Lacoste delegations participated in the Crocodile Specialist Group meeting in Manila (cf FDB’s Newsletter n°13 May-June). This participation was a first and gave a particular dimension to the event. The meeting work, such as Mabuwaya’s scientific analysis accompanied with media coverage brought attention to the threats on the Philippine Crocodile. Lacoste interviews in local press also contributed to this awareness improvement. As a consequence the Philippine Senate adopted a resolution requesting for an inquiry in aid of strengthening laws protecting crocodiles in the Philippines. A very good news for the Philippine Crocodile!

Philippine Crocodile Hatchling (© Mabuwaya)

- In May, 2012 -

Visit of the Philippine crocodile project

Last May, Bernard Limal and Antoine Cadi presented last results of the Philippine crocodile conservation project to a delegation led by Michel Lacoste, in the Province of Isabela, Philippines. They have been warmly welcomed by Mabuwaya foundation who organized an action-packed 4-days-long trip: mini-summit on Philippine crocodile conservation issues, visit of the rearing station, meeting with the villagers of Dunoy, release of crocodiles and visit of the reforestation site. During this trip, the delegation could note the relevance and the effectiveness of Mabuwaya activities that are supported by the FDB thanks to Lacoste sponsorship.

Release of crocodiles by Mabuwaya, Dunoy villagers and the FDB and Lacoste delegations (© FDB)

- In April, 2012 -

Reward for crocodile protection

Last month, Mabuwaya foundation visited the village of Dicatian, Divilacan municipality, North-east of Philippine. A festive meeting with villagers was the opportunity to assess local conservation effort for 2011: monitoring results showed the presence of at least 10 crocodiles in the area. In accordance with its conservation reward program, Mabuwaya gave 10 000 Philippine pesos (around 165€) to the village fund. Some villagers were thinking of using the money to repair their solar power battery charger.

Mabuwaya meeting in Dicatian (Source : Mabuwaya)


- In March, 2012 -

Young Philippine crocodile back to the wild

At the beginning of this year, one juvenile Philippine crocodile was released back into the wild in Narra lake by Mabuwaya association. It had spent the first part of his life in the breeding centre of the municipality of San Mariano.


- In November, 2011 -

Philippine crocodile stamps issued in favor of Philippines crocodile conservation

The Philippine Postal Corporation and WWF issued a special series of stamps featuring the Philippine crocodile. Mabuwaya was asked to provide the text and additional Philippine crocodile pictures for this special series. It is hoped that these stamps will increase awareness on the plight of the Philippine crocodile and contribute to a more generalized acceptance of the species. Special issues of the stamps may be purchased from the Mabuwaya Foundation website: www.mabuwaya.org.


- In October, 2011 -

New Philippine crocodile project started!

A new project to conserve the critically endangered Philippine crocodile is now well on its way in Isabela Province in northern Philippines. The project is funded by Lacoste through FDB and Save your Logo and is implemented by the Mabuwaya Foundation. The name Mabuwaya is a contraction of the Filipino words Mabuhay (Long Live!) and Buwaya (the Crocodile). Mabuwaya started to study and conserve the Philippine crocodile in 1999 when a very small “forgotten” population of this rare species was discovered in Isabela Province in Northeast Luzon. Since then good progress has been made in Philippine crocodile conservation but the species remains very rare and is still on the brink of extinction in the wild.

Introducing the Mabuwaya Foundation team

The Mabuwaya Foundation team consists of a group of young enthusiastic professionals whose aim it is to protect the Philippine crocodile. From left to right: Tess Balbas (Community organizer and deputy director); Dominic Rodriguez (Conservation manager of the northern Philippine crocodile population in San Mariano); Sam Telan (Conservation manager of the southern Philippine crocodile population in San Mariano); Wilda Calapoto (Financial and Admin manager); Willem van de Ven (Researcher); Arnold Macadangdang (Fieldwork manager); Jessie Guerrero (Conservation manager of the coastal Philippine crocodile population in Isabela Province). Not on the picture: Roberto Araño (President Mabuwaya Board); Myrna Cureg (Vice-President Mabuwaya Board); Jan van der Ploeg (Project Adviser); Merlijn van Weerd (Director, took the photo)

Photo legend: The field team of the Mabuwaya Foundation (photo by Merlijn van Weerd)

Reintroduction of Philippine crocodiles into the wild

The Mabuwaya Foundation collects Philippine crocodile hatchlings from nests in the wild to raise them under protected circumstances for a period of two years, after which they will be released back into their natural habitat. This greatly increases their chances of survival. On September 24, 2011, 10 juvenile Philippine crocodiles were released back into the wild in the municipality of San Mariano in Isabela Province, within a crocodile management area. The Mabuwaya Foundation will monitor the survival and movements of these crocodiles, together with local community members.

Photos Gallery

Crocodile des Philippines
Crocodile des Philippines dans l'eau Philippines

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