Saturday, September 24, 2011

The big one

You may have missed this story early this month, but it is remarkable for several reasons. The Palawan Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center announced on September 5th that a 21-day battle by Filipino villagers in Bunuwan, Agusan del Sur, had resulted in the successful capture (video here) of a huge saltwater crocodile. Dozens of locals participated in the hunt, during which the croc escaped twice by chewing through ropes before they switched to steel cable traps. The locals brought the creature to shore alive (another video here) and pulled it to a clearing (1st image) where it was lifted onto a truck by crane. The crocodile - estimated to be between 50 and 100 years old - weighed in at 1,075kg (2,370lb) and measures 6.4m (21') from tip to tail. Wildlife division chief Josefina de Leon said "This is the biggest animal that I've handled in 20 years of trapping." Even so, crocodile hunter Rollie Sumiller, who headed up the hunt, said this reptile may not be the man-eater they have been looking for. "When I finally saw it after its capture I couldn't believe my eyes. It was big enough to swallow three men all at once," said mayor Edwin Elorde. The beast, named "Lolong" (after a deceased, veteran crocodile hunter), is expected to edge out 5.48m (17' 11.75") "Cassius" - held at Green Island, Queensland, Australia - by several feet to take the record for the largest captive crocodile in the world. Lolong now has pride of place at an ecotourism park that has already opened for business, since the basin intended to be the town's swimming pool has been converted to a watering hole for the animal (2nd image). "The villagers, of course, are very happy that they have been able to turn this dangerous crocodile from a threat into an asset," said the mayor.

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