A 10-year-old boy has died in the Philippines after he was snatched from a boat by a saltwater crocodile.
The young boy was reportedly on a small wooden boat with his two older siblings near the town of Balabac when the tragic incident occurred.
According to authorities, attacks such as this are becoming more common in the area due to the expansion of the town shrinking the reptiles’ habitats.
The siblings rushed home to tell their father what happened. A search party of police, coast guard, neighbours and volunteers failed to find the body overnight.
A fisherman later discovered the remains of the child’s body around 90km away from where the attack took place, according to Palawan Daily News.
Saltwater crocodiles, also called the estuarine crocodile, are one of the world’s largest reptiles. They can grow up to six metres (20ft) long and can weigh up to a tonne.
Due to the Philippines’ growing population and economy, and the development of towns and cities, the habitats of reptiles, such as swamps and mangroves, are steadily becoming smaller. This means more animals are sharing smaller areas of land and water, limiting their food resources and forcing them into closer, and more aggressive, contact with humans.
Jovic Pabello, spokesman for a government council that works to conserve the environment of the Palawan island group that includes Balabac, told France24:
Since 2015, we’ve never had a year with zero [crocodile] attacks. It’s a conflict on water use.
In February this year, for example, a crocodile grabbed a 12-year-old boy while he was swimming in the Balabac river. Fortunately, he managed to escape after his siblings hit the croc on the head with oars until it let go.
The recent incident is the fifth recorded crocodile attack in the island town since last year.
In February last year, a fisherman was killed and eaten by a saltwater crocodile, just a few months after his own niece was dragged away by a crocodile in 2017. The girl, sadly, was never seen again.
The archipelago of Palawan is often referred to as the ‘last frontier’ of the Philippines. Home to a vast array of wildlife, it is currently experiencing a boom in tourism and unregulated development, encroaching on its natural environment.
The population of Puerto Princesa on the island, for example, has tripled in the past 25 years.
Solutions to the ever-growing problem are not forthcoming currently.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.