Monday, February 11, 2013

So long, Lolong

Sadly, Lolong the record-breaking 6.17 m saltwater crocodile caught in the Philippines in September 2011 died last night around 8 pm local time. There's a lot of speculation about the cause of death, but until a necropsy has been completed, we won't actually know what killed him. Ronnie Sumillar, the local expert who led the capture effort, is conducting the necropsy. I'm sure this is not what he wanted to be doing today.

I'll write a more detailed post when more has been confirmed.

19 comments:

howlingwind said...

lolong might still be alive today if he is still in the marshland of agusan... his real home... people here in the Philippines are too greedy.. they don't really care about the crocs, they just care about the money it will bring.. and one of the last stronghold of croc population in mindanao( liguasan marsh) is in threat of oil exploration....

howlingwind said...

lolong might still be alive today if he's not taken away from his original home, the agusan marsh... i'm sure lolong wasnt happy in a small enclosure compared to his natural habitat... i'm also upset because people here in the Philippines are just greedy.. they only care about the money it will bring... another sad thing is that another croc stronghold area is under threat of oil exploration - Liguasan Marsh also in Mindanao..

Adam Britton said...

He might be alive, but don't forget many locals were trying to poison him because he was blamed for the death of a 9 year old girl and a local fisherman. He was removed before this happened to him. It's not really fair to say that the people who caught him were only interested in money. They put a lot of effort into using Lolong to raise awareness of crocodiles, and redirect money he earned into conservation of the marsh. They were devastated by his death because they all loved him, and having met them I know this is genuine.

Jong Bagayao said...

I believe lolong was poisoned. Experts should carefully examine the cause of his death so that it he is found to be intentionally killed, then those responsible should be punished...

Jong Bagayao said...

I believe Lolong was poisoned. Experts should carefully examine the cause of his death so that if he is found to be intentionally killed, then those responsible should be punished...

Adam Britton said...

Jong, there are all kinds of possible conspiracy theories and speculation as to why Lolong died. We need to wait until the necropsy is completed, the samples and tissue analysed before we start looking at the cause of death.

Neill said...

Bit of wild speculation to say poisoning was involved. Suspect this will turn out to be just an illness or an accident of some kind. Sad end in any case but will be interesting to see what further information becomes available.

Vancatu said...

This is very sad. How did they let him swallow a nylon cord in the first place? Is it just me or does this sound suspicious? Some of those villagers probably still wanted him dead, blaming him for killing that little girl. I was hoping he would live for another 30 years to see how much he would still grow, but this is probably for the better, considering the small enclosure in which he lived and having caretakers who don't know how to properly treat such an animal.

Anyway, I've just seen the Animal Planet documentary of him, that also shows pictures of another very large crocodile living in the same park that might be even bigger than Lolong.

JB said...

Hey Adam. It's a sad thing about Lolong, I wanted to see him in person at least once.
A question, how do smaller enclosures affect crocodilians, especially the large ones?

Adam Britton said...

JB, very small enclosures where the crocodile isn't able to move around comfortably can lead to significant stress and reduce growth rate and longevity. Lolong's enclosure was actually relatively large, certainly in terms of water and land area, compared with your typical zoo crocodile enclosure. Crocs in the wild can and do often choose to live in quite small pools, surprisingly so at times, although others will range more widely given the choice. The usual reason crocs move around though is because they're looking for resources, and captive crocs given a good food supply and the right conditions don't always want to leave those cushy surroundings even if given a choice of more space. Lolong's enclosure could certainly have benefited from more choice, more pools to select etc, as could many zoo enclosures around the world, but that's not what killed him.

You may still be able to see Lolong in person if their plans to create a museum come to fruition.

Adam Britton said...

Vancatu,

Some plastic was found in his fecal matter back in January, the reports of a plastic cord killing him seem to have been invented by one of the papers there. The concern was whether anything else plastic might be still inside him, but apparently not. Also, his caretakers had a good idea of what they were doing, and they put a lot of effort into him – he was a huge asset to them. The enclosure wasn’t particularly bad, it just wasn’t particularly good either, but I’ve seen a lot worse frankly. You should see the enclosure that Cassius has lived in for 25+ years, much smaller.

Not sure what other croc you’re referring to, but Lolong was easily the largest croc they had there. A big croc exists at the park in Davao a few hours drive away, but he’s not as big as Lolong. There was another croc in Agusan Marsh which some speculated was even larger than Lolong, but this was based on a few blurry photos and some reports by locals. The photos I saw were of a big croc, undoubtedly, but impossible to say how it compared with Lolong.

Vancatu said...

Dr Britton, thank you for providing those details. I personally think that if Lolong was such an asset he should have deserved a better enclosure. He should have had a spot to which he could retreat to relax, instead of being in the open 24/7. I'm sure that the amount of stress caused by all the visitors has had a negative impact on his health and may very well have led to his death.

I was refering to that other crocodile in the Agusan Marsh. I agree that it's impossible to estimate its true lenght based on those pictures, but clearly this was another huge crocodile. I wouldn't be suprised if they try to capture it in the future to compensate for the loss of Lolong. I really felt sad when learned about his loss. He was possibly one of a couple dozen 20+ feet crocodiles in the world. t's a big shame that he died, and that's an understatement.

Adam Britton said...

Hi Vancatu,

I think we all wished he could have had a multi-million dollar enclosure, but no matter how valuable your asset you still have to find the money for it here and now. At the time they built him what they thought was a great enclosure. By modern zoo standards it was fairly basic, but adequate. They were of course keen to see the enclosure improved, which is why a fair percentage of the entrance fees for visitors went into maintenance with a view to improve it. I’m sure this would have happened in time.

Bear in mind that all the photos you’ve seen of Lolong show him with the water drained or partially drained, because of course nobody publishes photos of him when the pool was full and he was sheltering underwater as crocodiles normally do. He was normally fully exposed to visitors for about half an hour a day (so I’ve been informed), so for the remaining 23 and a half hours he was either able to shelter underwater or, after visitor hours from the evening through to the next morning, he was basically left undisturbed. Would a lot of us have done things differently? Absolutely. Were people entirely happy with his setup? Of course not, but I’ve seen a lot worse. His enclosure was larger than many I’ve seen over the years which have housed very large crocodiles, so I don’t really buy the argument that the state of his enclosure was a major contributor to his early death. Having said that, it is true is that some wild-caught crocodiles simply never adapt to captivity, either by refusing to eat entirely and eventually starving to death, or by appearing fine while slowly deteriorating. Crocs in 5 star captive accommodation have died due to this. Perhaps this was the reason Lolong died, a gradual deterioration which slowly impaired his immune system making him susceptible to infections and disease that a healthy crocodile would have shrugged off? While the tempting argument for many will be to blame the enclosure and captive care, it may simply be that the crocodile never really settled. Perhaps he should have never been caught? But then he might have been poisoned or shot instead, and would likely never have inspired the sea change in attitude towards crocodiles in the Philippines. Yes, it’s a massive shame for many reasons, but sometimes events are outside anyone’s control.

Vancatu said...

Is there any news on the result of the autopsy?

Adam Britton said...

Not that I've been told, no. I'll report on here as soon as I know. I have a speculative post on what might have killed him which I may post soon.

Tania Ghosh said...

It's sad that after George,the tortoise,such a VIP like Lolong passed away.That news reminded me of the death of one of Steve Irwin's favorite crocs in the Australia Zoo.As far as I can remember,her name was Molly.Steve broke down in tears.It was so heart-breaking.

Neill said...

Just seen an article claiming cardiac failure, possibly exacerbated by stress and he had pneumonia? Not sure how reliable that information is however.

Colin musson said...

I'm very saddened to hear this. I have been trying to find a documentary about him but have been unable to..I really wanted to go see him but that won't happen now. .such a magnificent animal.

axl said...

TO me, quite honestly, the only thing that killed Lolong was the ridiculous "duck pen" he was placed in. How can a creature of his size, swimming thousands of kilometers all it's life be reduced to a kid's swimming pool, just lying around, unable to swim, submerge or what have you? When I first saw that, I knew that croc would not live past two years. His teeth and claws had worn out and he looked vegetated due to being in one position all the time. Whether poisoning, nylon string or whatever, the main reasons he's dead is because of the SHEER IGNORANCE AND STUPIDITY the people who put him there. That croc simply needed a large swimming pool.