Saturday, June 24, 2006

Palawan Crocodile Farm

So that is the short name. In fact, it is even shorter as people just usually refer to it as the Crocodile Farm. I learned on this visit however, that more formally, the whole place is named the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center. And in this conservation center is the Crocodile Farm and Nature Park. Also referred to as “Silungan” maintained by the Crocodile Farming Institute (yes, there is such a thing) fully supported by the city government and the PENR of the DENR. Hah! So we all better just call it “the crocodile farm” hehe!

The reason why I wanted to know and tell you all of the above is to ascertain really if this place is owned and managed by a private entity, a family (like the butterfly garden) or a responsible government office. Why did I want to know? Oh well, it is a facility taking custody and breeding dangerous big animals that could easily lap any of us anytime, right?! Simba ko! So there it is, good to know that it is a DENR facility. At least I had confidence that those humongous reptiles won’t easily come marching around the gardens to chase and have us for a snack! Ayaw ko pa! As in ayaw pa, please hehehe!

A safe and very educational tour, btw, that even kids would be fine anywhere as long as there are adults supervising them! I mean responsible adults!

Interestingly, it starts at the lobby of the institute, where the tour-guide, an official no less, introduces guests to the existence of crocodiles and their habitats in Palawan, both freshwater and saltwater versions, Duuu! There are saltwater crocs in this place OMG hehe and we are going on a Honda Bay Tour tomorrow! OMG really! Anyway…

The lecture starts as you all stand gathered around a glass-encased skeleton of what is purported to be the biggest croc ever caught in this area. Just above it, plastered on the wall is its wide and lengthy skin now a fine croc-leather. I did wonder how many bags or shoes could be made out of that thing hehe. As a side attraction, on the other corner, still in this lobby is an equally gigantic skeleton of a whale. Whoa, you'll feel too small in this place, really!

Then guests are herded a few steps to an AV Room for a video show still more about crocs in general and crocs in the island of Palawan. Very informative video plus the annotations of the officer who doubles as tour-guide within the facility. There is even a question and answer portion all about crocs and whatever else you maybe wondering about – including, but not limited to discussing the meat by-products and the croc skin or leather prices in the world market.

Next you exit via another door of the same room to view them crocs a breeding. There is a next building with open sides that teems with a lot of seemingly oversized tubs, some are made of concrete others made of thick fiber glass or plastic, all with rims to about the height of my waist. They're like many swimming pools housed in some kind of a green house. You guessed it, in there are the hundreds of baby, toddler and kid crocodiles waiting to grow. Awrrr! Well, since they are still little, some do look cute and cuddly. In fact, there is a portion in the show-and-tell where tour guide will take out one of them for anyone to hold and have pictures taken. Don't worry, the snout is tied shut with rubber band!

Oh, there are other creatures in some of the tubs, like turtles, fish etc., but mainly they are crocs in groups of them either or both still growing and waiting to be let out hehe. Some of the already bigger ones stay solo in their own big tubs. So careful before you pop your head in hehe. Ah, am just joking, the tub walls are high enough for them crockies to be still able to jump and grab your face hehehe! But, I still say, who knows, right?! Hey, baby and younger crocs make cute little chirping sounds for communication! You'd even easily mistake them for bird sounds if you were not looking straight at their big eyes when they make those sounds! Almost like the quack of wild ducks!

That's it? Not quite!

You then all follow the guide to another block in the area, not anymore a roofed building, to see the dambuhala real and live crocodiles! Gosh! I was fine seeing one or two at many a zoo everywhere. But here, there are not just families but communities of them long-snouted big-toothed carnivores. Awwrrrr! They are housed in wide concrete enclosures much like swimming pools with very shallow water. Yes pools, as in overwhelmingly many of them concrete pens. Did I count 6? Ah, probably 8 or more! And to view them crocs, you do not just stay peeping on the sides as you wont see them since the concrete walls are tall (they better be hehe).

Thus, you all climb to and walk on a bridge that straddles above all of them pens littered with too many crocs, seemingly hoping and waiting for anyone of you to fall ayiyiyiiiiii, ayaw ko! All parts of the bridge are made of steel though, plus there is a fence just about the height of my waist, so it is safe for adults and children. But don't you or they start fooling around in this area cuz anything that falls will go straight into those monsters waiting below hehe. And you must pass by this bridge whether you like it or else hehe, as its the only way of the tour – since you will exit on the other side. Hahaha, I've seen some fellow tourists grapple with themselves trying to walk on that bridge since there are slats. Anything that falls, as in anything at all that can fit through those slats, definitely goes to the crocs! Like what? Ah well, like coins, cameras, wallets, cellular phones and whahavyas!

Now the other wonderful part of this tour is after getting off the bridge at the other side of that croc pound. You descend into a portion of this conservation center that is not about crocs. First to greet you are the expansive ostrich pens. And those big birds seem already adept to having humans as visitors. They do come near to the fence to ogle at you, even make some movements as if trying to tell you something and/or even peck at the head gear or shirt of careless folks that go too near for them birds to reach with their beaks! Hey, I still think those neck movements and quick banging of their becks on the fence is some form of bird communication. They must be trying to tell us something. Maybe something like, they want to fight, or they don't like your presence or something hehe!

There are bear cats and other endangered or injured animals all over this big place that seems to be a combination of dry grassy land and mangrove forests. There is even a nipa hut in the middle of the thickets where you can buy snacks and various Palawan souvenirs!

A nice experience!

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