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Small (3m total length), mainly freshwater species. Only ever found in the Philippines. Lives mainly as single dispersed individuals. Basis for conservation concern 1982 nationwide survey: maximum of 500-1,000 individuals and no more than 100 adults left.

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Small (3m total length), mainly freshwater species.

  • Only ever found in the Philippines.
  • Lives mainly as single dispersed individuals.

Basis for conservation concern

  • 1982 nationwide survey: maximum of 500-1,000 individuals and no more than 100 adults left.
  • Pre-1985: no protection of wild crocodiles and no actions to counter threats. Government view that species cannot be saved in the wild, despite listing by Philippine Government.
  • 1987: first coordinated captive breeding program established (Palawan Island).
  • The most threatened species of crocodile in the world:
  • IUCN: Critically Endangered.
  • Crocodile Specialist Group (CSG): highest priority.

Initiating a national recovery program

  • First CSG Global Action Plan (1992) recommended “a national crocodile management program” as highest priority for the species.
  • National Recovery Plan endorsed and published in 2000. Revised in 2005 and 2009.
  • National Recovery Team established by Philippine Government Special Order in 2000.
  • ZV holds International Coordinator position on Recovery Team.

Situation in 1998-99:

  • No protection of wild Philippine Crocodiles.
  • Very little knowledge of wild populations and numbers.
  • No understanding of the species’ ecology.
  • Very low or no community awareness >> negative attitudes.
  • No capacity to release captive-bred crocodiles.
  • Minimal global support.
  • Key threats: habitat loss, killing (direct & indirect) and negative perceptions of crocodiles.
  • Much subsequent progress > > >

Wild Philippine Crocodile locations in 2000

All known localities with historical and recent C. mindorensis observations


Confirmed extinct

Possibly surviving

Confirmed extant


Likely extinct





Only two viable populations – in north-east Luzon Island and central Mindano Island. Not possible to access latter site.





North-east Luzon – the best option for recovering the species

  • Wild Philippine Croc confirmed in March 1999.
  • Critical factor underpinning success of this program – previous 5 years building trust and goodwill between all local stakeholders.
  • Since become the only viable in situ conservation program for the species.
  • In situ conservation focus of Zoos Victoria’s support for Philippine Crocs.
  • Note: small, low level community projects in central Mindanao Island and Dalupiri Island off the north Luzon coast.

Region of focus – heavily cleared & farmed lowlands (Cagayan River valley), rugged uplands (Northern Sierra Madre).


Conservation challenge:

- How to conserve a critically endangered crocodile in a local context characterised by rural poverty, civil insurgence, a lack of government control, very limited access to education and information, and negative community perceptions of crocodiles?


North-east Luzon

  • Based in San Mariano Municipality, Isabela Province.
  • Small local protection project commenced in May 1999.
  • First regional program (2000) – Crocodile Research, Observation & Conservation (CROC). Supported by ZV.
  • In 1999-2000, adult numbers less than 10.
  • Breeding confirmed at only three locations – Disulap River, Lake Dunoy and Dinang Creek. Each less than 2ha.

Mabuwaya Foundation – ZV’s field partner

  • CROC >> Mabuwaya Foundation in 2003. Registered Philippine ngo.
  • “Mabuhay” (long life) and “buwaya” (crocodile) = long live the crocodile.
  • Based at Isabela State University.

Mabuwaya – program objectives

  • Action research:
  • Surveys.
  • Head-starting.
  • 2. Communication, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA) campaigns :
  • School programs & community drama.
  • Community benefits.
  • 3. Protection and ecosystem management:
  • Community-managed sanctuaries.
  • 4. Capacity building:
  • Training



breeding parameters

Joint research projects to fill knowledge gaps on species ecology


Re-enforcement program – head-starting:

  • Issue: wild population needs supplementing to enable numbers that can cope with mortalities of very small crocodiles from typhoons and predators, and illegal collection.
  • Protect nests.
  • Collect hatchlings in high risk areas.
  • Rear hatchlings in captivity for 18 months.
  • Construct ‘soft release’ ponds.
  • Release juveniles in ponds.
  • Monitor released crocodiles.


  • Wild population increased from less than 10 sub-adults/adults in 1999 to just over 100 in 2013.
  • Six crocodile sanctuaries established.
  • Released crocodiles observed in areas where species had been wiped out.
  • Significant increase in knowledge of species ecology.
  • Dramatic reduction in number of crocodiles killed – more than 10 per year before 2000 to one per year from 2007.
  • Local people trained in monitoring wild crocodiles and rearing in captivity.

Communication, Education & Public Awareness:

mobilizing public support for Philippine crocodile conservation



The Philippine Crocodile is now the mascot of San Mariano Municipality and widely recognised as the flagship for wetland protection.



Addresses larger threats to local communities



Communities managing and protecting six crocodile sanctuaries


Program successful because:

  • Intensive and continuous communication
  • Functional/meaningful participation of local communities.
  • Locally embedded conservation initiatives.
  • Ordinances are locally specific and relevant to people living in the area, resulting in greater enforcement outcomes.
  • Increased local control over resource use and environmental degradation: the crocodile is a symbol for local sustainable development.
  • More fish and protected watersheds.
  • Increased income: employment, nest protection and improved access to market for farm products.
  • Highlights to government that the species can be conserved.

Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park:

  • Habitat protection and reforestation.
  • Threatened species research.

ZV’s other partnership roles:

  • Strengthening global zoo support.
  • International Coordinator: Philippine Crocodile Recovery Team

6 North American zoos via Gladys Porter Zoo.

6 European zoos via Danish Crocodile Zoo.


On-site program profile at Melbourne Zoo.

  • First received crocodiles in 1993, via Agreement with Silliman University.
  • Species behaviour presents husbandry challenges.

Facilitated schoolrelationship: Holy Spirit and San Isidro

Builds student understanding,

improves school resources in San Isidro and strengthens local support for crocodiles.


CROCS Sponsor Program: Crocodiles in the River and Our Children in School

  • Links children from Cadsalan Integrated School, Dinang Creek site, with the crocodile rearing station in San Mariano.
  • Children participate in feeding and measuring crocodiles, and learn about crocodile ecology and wetland conservation – strengthens community engagement.
  • School benefits by pump wells for clean water.
  • All 426 students (elementary and high school) receive school supplies (notebooks, pens, pencils, etc.).
  • AUD.1,500 for two years.