A boy was killed after being snatched from a boat by a saltwater crocodile in the southern Philippines, as the reptiles’ shrinking habitat leads to repeated attacks.
The 10-year-old was on board with his two older siblings near the town of Balabac, which is notorious for confrontations with the massive creatures, when he was yanked into the water.His father failed to find the boy after an overnight search, but a fisherman discovered the child’s half-eaten remains in a mangrove swamp, a police report said.
The Philippines’ booming development and population have steadily invaded the creatures’ habitat, forcing them into ever-smaller stretches of swamp.
“Since 2015, we’ve never had a year with zero (crocodile) attacks” in Balabac, said Jovic Pabello, spokesman for agovernment council that works to conserve the environment of the Palawan island group that includes Balabac.
Also called the estuarine crocodile, the saltwater is one of the world’s largest reptiles, growing to up to six metres (20 feet) long and weighing up to a tonne.
In February a crocodile grabbed a 12-year-old boy as he swam at a Balabac river, but he escaped when his siblings hit the reptile’s head with oars until it let him go, Pabello added.
The Palawan island group, often called the Philippines’ “last frontier” is home to a remarkable diversity of flora and fauna, but is threatened by unchecked development.