By Dennis Principe
Supposedly, you would immediately report to authorities once you see a huge crocodile roaming around your community.
But that was not the case in one remote area in Palawan after a humongous reptile, about two to three meters long, was seen resting about 200 meters away from the Rabor Elementary School in Balabac, Palawan.
In fact, one of the school’s teachers Dionisio Lantawan even had the courage to take a selfie with the massive saltwater crocodile early this week.
“Tulog kasi nung lumapit ako. Pero ang laki talaga natakot nga yung mga bata din dito (The crocodile was asleep when I approached him. But it’s really big, the children here got afraid of it,” said Lantawan in an interview.
Lantawan said croc sightings were common in their area and that locals seemed to have accepted it as a part of their daily lives.
“Nag-iingat lang talaga sila and yung mga Molbog (indigenous group) kasi dito ang paniwala nila kung huhulihin o sasaktan mo mga buwaya, dun lang sila gumaganti (They’re really careful because the Molbog here have a belief that when you capture and hurt the crocodile, that’s when it fights back),” said Lantawan who actually lives in Bataraza town which is more than 50 kilometers away from Balabac.
“Madalas talaga dito may gumagala na mga buwaya. Sa loob nga ng dalawang linggo may apat na akong nakikita (Crocodiles always roam around here. In two weeks, I’ve seen four),” revealed Lantawan.
Lantawan said said crocodile attacks have been reported countless times in the past, making children feel concerned about their safety.
“Marami din mga bata, lalo na mga estudyante ang takot lalo na dito kasi nasa paligid itong Balabac dagat (There are many children, especially the students, who are really afraid because the place is surrounded by Balabac sea),” said Lantawan.
Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) Staff spokesperson Jovic Fabello also warned residents not to hurt and not to hunt down the protected wildlife.
“What we need to do is to be careful and to strengthen the information and education campaign to ensure the safety of the residents,” said Fabello.
Saltwater crocodiles cannot stay long underwater, particularly if their habitat mangrove areas are flooded during high tide, he explained.
The saltwater crocodile is the largest of all living reptiles in the world. (With a report from PNA)