Thursday, September 08, 2011

21-feet long Giant Crocodile Captured in the Philippines

BUNAWAN, Philippines, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- Authorities in the Philippines said they've been hunting for crocodiles since a 21-foot croc, apparently the biggest in captivity, was captured.

Searches began in marshes of Agusan del Sur province after the Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center announced on Monday the huge saltwater crocodile, weighing 600-pounds, had been caught caught, GMA News reported Tuesday.

The crocodile is believed to be the largest in captivity. Guinness World Records lists the record-holder at 18-feet-long.

Bunawan Mayor Edwin Cox Elorde said "entrapment operations" were under way in the marshes to catch more crocs.

Ronald Nuer of the Bunawan Municipal Council said it took 21 days to catch the massive crocodile and it twice escaped traps by chewing through ropes.

After a three week search, dozens of villagers and experts finally captured a 21-foot, 2,370-pound seawater crocodile that may be the largest one ever captured in the Philippines.

Because is against Filipino law to kill a crocodile, the reptile will instead star in its own exhibit at an ecotourism park.

Local Mayor Cox Elorde said villagers are now searching for an even bigger crocodile they believe is loose in the region.

Residents use their hands to measure a 21-feet (6.4 metres) saltwater crocodile, which is suspected of having attacked several people, after it was caught in Nueva Era in Bunawan town, Agusan del Sur, southern Philippines September 4, 2011.

A giant 21-foot crocodile weighing in at about a ton was caught by a group of villagers in the Philippines, possibly making this the largest crocodile captured alive ever.

The giant crocodile has been plaguing the town for years, as it reportedly attacked and killed a water buffalo last month according to witnesses and possibly a fisherman and child who have been missing since July.  

MANILA, Philippines: What a croc! Its mighty snout wrapped tightly with ropes, a one-ton, 20-foot saltwater crocodile was captured and put on display in a town in the southern Philippines _ one of the biggest such reptiles to be caught in recent years.

But shed no crocodile tears for this colossal captive.

”Lolong,” as it has been nicknamed, is about to become the star attraction of an ecotourism park _ unless it is upstaged by an even larger reptile that may be still be on the loose.

Residents of Bunawan township celebrated when they captured the croc, with about 100 people pulling the feared beast from a creek by rope, then hoisting it by crane onto a truck. While the beast was safely tied up, they examined its teeth, claws and stubby legs with fascination.

Their party may have been premature, however.

After the 20-foot (6.1-meter) reptile was caught over the weekend, authorities said Tuesday an even bigger crocodile may still be lurking in creeks of the remote region in Agusan del Sur province.

The scaly skinned Lolong _ which tips the scales at 2,370 pounds (1,075 kilograms) _ is estimated to be at least 50 years old. Wildlife officials were trying to confirm whether it was the largest such catch in the world, said Theresa Mundita Lim of the government’s Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau.

It was captured alive after a three-week hunt, easing some fears among the locals. A child was killed two years ago in the township by a crocodile, and a croc is suspected of killing a fisherman who has been missing since July. Last month, residents saw a crocodile killing a water buffalo.

The party thrown after Lolong’s capture ”was like a feast, so many villagers turned up,” said Mayor Edwin Cox Elorde.

Wildlife official Ronnie Sumiller, who has hunted ”nuisance crocodiles” for 20 years and led the team that captured Lolong, said another search was under way for the possibly larger croc that he and residents have seen in the town’s marshy outskirts.

”There is a bigger one, and it could be the one creating problems,” Sumiller told The Associated Press by telephone from Bunawan, about 515 miles (830 kilometers) southeast of Manila.

”The villagers were saying 10 percent of their fear was gone because of the first capture,” Sumiller said. ”But there is still the other 90 percent to take care of.”

Backed by five village hunters he trained, Sumiller has set 20 steel cable traps with an animal carcass as bait in nearby vast marshland and along the creek where Lolong was caught.

Sumiller said he found no human remains when he induced the captured crocodile to vomit.

Residents of the farming town of about 37,000 people have been told to avoid venturing into marshy areas alone at night, Elorde said.

Guinness World Records lists a saltwater crocodile caught in Australia as the largest crocodile in captivity, measuring 17 feet 11.75 inches (5.48 meters). Saltwater crocodiles can live for more than 100 years and grow to 23 feet (7 meters).

A website for a park called Action Adventure in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., says it is home to Utan, ”King of the Crocs,” which it bills as the largest crocodile in the United States, measuring more than 20 feet. Park officials did not immediately respond to telephone calls or email requests for information about their crocodile.

Elorde said he plans to make Lolong ”the biggest star” in a planned ecotourism park.
Philippine laws strictly prohibit civilians from killing endangered crocodiles, with violators facing up to 12 years in prison and a fine of 1 million pesos ($24,000).

The world’s most endangered freshwater variety, crocodylus mindorensis, is found only in the Philippines, where only about 250 are known to be in the wild.

About 1,000 of the larger saltwater type, or crocodylus porosus, like the one captured in Bunawan, are scattered mostly in the country’s southern swamplands, wildlife official Glen Rebong said.

Environment Secretary Ramon Paje said the enormous crocodile was captured because it was a threat to the community. He added the reptiles remind that the Philippines’ remaining rich habitats need to be constantly protected.

Crocodiles have been hunted in the Philippines by poachers hoping to cash in on the high demand in wealthy Asian countries for their hide, which is coveted for products ranging from bags and shoes to cellphone cases.


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