Monday, May 13, 2013

What really killed Lolong?

Alas poor Lolong, we hardly knew ye. The largest living crocodile that any of us had ever seen is gone, a mere 18 months after he was caught. It's now been a little while since he died, the initial disappointment has passed, teeth have been gnashed and fingers have been pointed. Still, I'm repeatedly asked about what caused his death. We have the official necropsy results of course, although many of you won't have had the chance to see those. So just what killed the largest crocodile in captivity and could anything have been done to prevent it?

Seeing Lolong was one of those "once in a lifetime" events. He was a glimpse into the past, a time that's probably lost forever when truly massive reptiles lurked in the river. For many, Lolong's size was fearsome yet he was remarkably gentle while he was in captivity. Worryingly so, in fact. Of course, Lolong was accused of having killed and eaten at least two people, leading to his "most wanted" status in the first place. Nobody ever proved that Lolong was responsible for those deaths, although it's certainly quite possible and a reasonable conclusion. Despite this, his impact on the Philippines can be measured by their national response to his death, the mourning for an individual whose species is generally despised so much it is compared unfavourably to the nation's politicians. His iconic status did much to earn crocodiles (of the non-political kind) some respect.