The Goal -
Changing the image of the world's rarest crocodile in the Philippines.
The critically endangered Philippine crocodile is the rarest crocodile in the world. The only two remaining wild populations are in northern Luzon and in southwest Mindanao. The biggest problem the crocodile faces is its negative image. Many local people view them as dangerous, and kill the crocodiles. In reality, the crocodile is small and will not attack people unless provoked. In northern Luzon, the Philippine conservation organization Mabuwaya used a theory of change (outlined in a recent article in the International Zoo Yearbook) that aimed to change the attitude of local residents towards crocodiles with the ultimate goal to increase local participation in crocodile conservation and increase the Philippine crocodile population to viable levels.
The Solution -
To save the crocodile, its image problem needed to be tackled.
Through awareness campaigns, workshops and education, Mabuwaya successfully changed the negative image of the crocodile:
- School lectures were held at all elementary and high school schools near crocodile localities.
- Krokey, the crocodile mascot visited these schools, puppet shows featuring crocodiles were held and a student theatre group performed shows about crocodiles at village “fiestas”.
- Community meetings were organized to inform the general public about crocodiles, and discuss wetland and crocodile conservation options.
- Communities were trained in land use planning and wetland conservation.
- Community members were involved in crocodile surveys and trained as crocodile sanctuary guards.
The local people don’t fear the animal anymore but are very proud of it. The local community actively participates in the conservation of the crocodile, for example by working in one of the eight community-managed crocodile sanctuaries or by planting trees that help restore the crocodiles’ habitat. To increase the crocodile population, Mubawaya invested in nest protection, head-starting and release of hatchling crocodiles, and habitat restoration. As a result, the Philippine crocodile in northern Luzon is saved from extinction, with a population increase from just 12 in 2001 to more than 100 in 2015. IUCN NL has supported this project from the start.
- The Philippine crocodile is now better understood and protected.
- The crocodile population has increased from just 12 in 2001 to more than 100 in 2015.
- Eight community managed crocodile sanctuaries have been established.
- The number of crocodile killings by humans has also decreased from thirteen in 1998 to one in 2015.
- A survey found that 78% of 200 respondents supported the conservation of the Philippine crocodile in the target area in 2013
- Information about effective communication campaigns is shared within the IUCN Species Survival Commission – Crocodile Specialist Group (CSG). Mabuwaya is chairing the Public Education and Community Participation sub-group within the CSG and has an extensive network of conservation practitioners who contribute knowledge about community participation in crocodile conservation.
- Mabuwaya has a partnership with Isabela State University in the Philippines and Leiden University in the Netherlands. Students and staff of these universities provide the scientific basis for conservation interventions.