M'LANG, North Cotabato, April 29 - An international organization working for the welfare of animals has appealed to the local government of M'lang, North Cotabato to immediately release a captured crocodile, officials said Tuesday.
Mayor Joselito Pinol of M'lang welcomed the suggestion of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) but reiterated the local government has no intention of keeping Malang, believed to be the country's largest crocodile in captivity.
It will be released back to the wild even without a reminder from PETA or an order from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Pinol told reporters.
In a letter to Pinol, PETA officials said the local government has no expertise to keep the 2.18-meter long crocodile captured by fishermen in the marshland of Central Mindanao region on April 12.
"We have no intention of keeping the crocodile (as a tourist attraction), we will send it back to the marshland," Pinol said in a radio interview.
He said the local government and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials have agreed to send the crocodile named after the towns name back to the wild.
Once the crocodiles condition improves, it will be released back to the marshland, Pinol said, adding that the reptiles health condition has been improving tremendously.
The Philippine freshwater crocodile (Crocodylus mindorensis) has been weak since it was captured by fishermen and tied to a huge tree until Mayor Pinol managed to convince them to turn over the large animal.
In its letter, PETAs letterhead said Animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.
After several negotiations with the fishermen, who had earlier demanded P40,000 for the reptile, it was turned over to the local government for custody and health recovery.
Last week, the crocodile managed to escape from its temporary cage, a 2-meter deep concrete lagoon beside the town hall, walked in the park for about 100 meters but was later recaptured and sent back to its cage.
Malang is getting stronger by the day, Pinol said, adding that it will be sent to the wild after attaching a chip to it.
DENR officials here believed that several crocodiles as huge as Lolong, the saltwater crocodile acknowledged by Guinness World Records as the largest in captivity before it died in February last year, could be in the Liguasan marsh, a 220,000-hectare wetland straddling the provinces of North Cotabato, Maguindanao and Sultan Kudarat.
Malang is a freshwater crocodile and considered critically endangered species which could grow to a maximum of three meters. (PNA)