The giant saltwater crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) caught off the waters of Simunul town in Tawi-Tawi last Oct. 14 turns out to be male and is named “Papa Dave,” according to an officer of the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources, and Energy-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao-(MENRE-BARMM).

IMG 5669 - Is ‘Papa Dave’ the Philippines’ largest crocodile in captivity now?
(CENRO Abdulmukim Maruji / MANILA BULLETIN)

Fisherfolk who saw and caught the large reptile initially named it “Mama Bull” and was intended as a partner for “Papa Bull,” a male crocodile that was also captured in the municipality of Simunul in 2017.

However, upon the assessment of experts from the Crocodylus Porosus Philippines, Inc. (CPPI), the crocodile caught off Taytay beach was found to be a male saltwater crocodile based on its large size.

In a phone interview with the Manila Bulletin, Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer of the MENRE-BARMM Tawi-Tawi Abdulmukim Maruji said the saltwater crocodile officially measures 17 feet and 11 inches long.

It is slightly shorter than the initial estimate of 18 feet, but it is still larger than “Papa Bull” which measures 16 feet and 11 inches.

Male crocodiles are known to grow up to 20 feet, while females are much smaller and rarely surpass 10 feet.

Upon confirmation that it is a male species, the reptile was named “Papa Dave,” after the name of the local resident who first saw the crocodile.

Maruji said the reptile, which was sighted at around 1 p.m. and captured at 3 p.m. on Oct. 14, “possibly originated near Sabah, Malaysia, and rode along the sea currents to Tawi-Tawi.”

Earlier this year, initial research findings by the CPPI show that Malaysia serves as a “bridge” for the crocodiles propagating in southern Palawan and traveling all the way to Tawi-Tawi. The connection between the events will further be established, according to the MENRE-BARMM.

Maruji said “Papa Dave” has been transferred to the custody of the municipal government of Simunul in Papa Bull’s Park and has not shown any signs of injury or illness.

The park is located within the Simunul Municipal Hall Compound, which is also where “Papa Bull” is being kept.

He noted that “Papa Dave” will be able to move comfortably as the park’s area is more or less 2,000 to 3,000 square meters. It is also swampy and muddy, with matured mangroves, so it can easily adapt to captive conditions.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Assistant Secretary and concurrent Biodiverisity Management Bureau Director Ricardo Calderon said they will still validate if “Papa Dave” is now the Philippines’ largest crocodile in captivity.

Measuring 20 feet and 3 inches, “Lolong” was once the world’s largest crocodile in captivity until his death in February, 2013.

It was caught off the waters of Bunawan, Agusan del Sur on Sept. 3, 2011.

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