Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center
I am now getting the hang of PPS (Puerto Princesa) acronyms. For organized tours, operators offer the CT (City Tour), UR (Underground River) and HB (Honday Bay). I just blogged about the PPSRNP (Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park) a few days ago. Let me introduce another acronym today – PWRCC or the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center.
It is informally known as ‘Crocodile Farm’ as it primarily breeds crocodiles and sells them for their prized hides. Only the hides of juvenile or 3-year old crocodiles are turned into leather for high-fashion items such as wallets, bags and shoes.
The facility also showcases the largest captured crocodile in Palawan. It measures approximately 6 meters. They had to capture it from the wild since it became a threat already to the community. It died in captivity after a few months due to stress. Its formidable skeleton is the first thing that visitors would see in PWRCC. Safely encased in glass, it now whispers of a time wherein all creatures great and small once roamed undisturbed in this world.
Inside you’ll see a hatchling house containing tubs with young crocodiles and concrete pens for the older ones. The breeders, I learned, are kept from the tourists so as not to interrupt the animals’ natural biological rhythms. Extra precaution must be exercised when one gets to the pens. The elevated concrete walkway is right above that section, and anything that may accidentally fall beneath it may not be recovered afterwards.
The whole facility was originally run by the Japanese until the Government of Japan donated it to the Philippines as a symbol of unity and cooperation between the two nations back in 1987. Since then, it has served as a refuge for confiscated wildlife, most of which are endemic to Palawan.
The nature park where the exotic animals are kept needs a massive makeover though. The cages were already overrun by rust and vines. It is also hard to make out the names of the animals since the signages are either faded or missing.
At the last leg of the tour, one could have his or her picture taken while holding a baby crocodile for just Php30.00. The proceeds of which would be used to help keep preserve the conservation center. I could only hope that a portion of the daily earnings could also be used to improve the nature park.
The PWRCC was the first stop of the CT and thus set the expectations for my first few hours in PPS. I have seen other similar initiatives in Cebu and Davao but it was a pleasant experience just the same.