Conservationists with the Mabuwaya Foundation raised the rare freshwater crocodiles for 18 months in a breeding center prior to loosing them in a remote national park, which is one of just two remaining natural habitats for the freshwater reptiles, AFP reports.
“The Philippine crocodile is the world’s most severely threatened crocodile species with less than 100 adults remaining in the wild. It could go extinct in 10 years if nothing is done,” Mabuwaya Foundation spokeswoman Maria Balbas told AFP.
The species has suffered devastating losses to habitat destruction, dynamite fishing, and hunting by humans who consider it dangerous.
But Balbas is confident that the baby crocs will have a safe home in the Sierre Madre Natural Park, which is located in the northern province of Isabela.
“There is enough food and people are educated on how to protect them. We actually have groups in the local community who guard the sanctuary. They are aware that killing crocodiles is prohibited,” she said.
If the reptiles survive, the population of known Philippine crocodiles will surge by about a fifth.
The baby crocodiles are only 14 to 20 inches long, but they will grow to be up to nine feet in length, AFP reports.