A newly opened slaughterhouse in southern Philippines will provide crocodile skin to luxury bag maker and fashion label Louis Vuitton. The JK Mercado and Sons Agricultural Enterprises (JKMSAE) opened on Wednesday in Kapalong, Davao del Norte, the only crocodile abattoir in Mindanao.
Vicente Mercado, chairman of the board of JKMSAE, said besides Louis Vuitton, other branded bag makers would also buy the croc skin from them, although he did not name the other buyers.
The slaughterhouse would source the skin from the local saltwater crocodile, known as the Crocodylus porosus, which is also bred in JKMSAE's 10-hectare farm. The company has 6,000 reptiles, consisting of the saltwater species, which they breed for trade, and the Crocodylus mindorensis species which they raise for conservation.
To ensure that the abattoir, which would slaughter at least 24 crocs a day, would meet global standards based on regulations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), the animals to be culled would be hit by an electric stunner and then would cut the coil and check the croc's brain to ensure it is dead.
The farm, in turn, will sell the crocodile meat in the local market.
The farm is registered with CITES and open to tourists who want to learn more about the crocodile industry in the Philippines.
Mr Mercado said the farm is also into conservation of the crocs for ecological balance.
Philippine waters have a large number of the saltwater crocodile. In 2011, the world's largest crocodile, later named Lolong, was captured in the province of Agusan del Sur. However, Lolong died in early 2013 while in captivity.
Besides Louis Vuitton, a local shoemaker is also into reptile fashion. Saldana Shoes has been making shoes, belts, bags and other fashion accessories since the 1950s.
The news of Philippine croc skin being imported by branded bag makers would surely lead to jokes about the inclusion of the skin of Philippine politicians in the trade. This is because local politicos such as some senators, congressmen, governors, mayors and even barangay officials have gained notoriety for greed and corruption and Filipinos have used the local word for crocodile - buwaya - to describe them.
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