Philippines catches "largest" crocodile on record

Philippines catches "largest" crocodile on record

Mayor Edwin Cox Elorde of Bunawan township, Agusan del Sur Province, pretends on Sunday (Sept. 5) to measure a giant crocodile that was captured by residents after a three-week hunt. (Associated Press/AP)

Manila (ANTARA News/AFP) - A giant saltwater crocodile weighing more than a tonne was captured in a remote Philippine village following a spate of attacks on humans and livestock, officials said Tuesday.

The 21-foot (6.4-metre), 1,075-kilogramme (2,370-pound) reptile may have eaten a farmer who went missing in July, along with several water buffaloes in the southern town of Bunawan, crocodile hunter Rollie Sumiller said.

A crocodile also bit off the head of a 12-year-old girl in Bunawan in 2009, according to the environment ministry.

Josefina de Leon, wildlife division chief of the environment ministry`s protected areas and wildlife bureau, said it was likely the biggest crocodile ever captured.

"Based on existing records the largest that had been captured previously was 5.48 metres long," she told AFP.

"This is the biggest animal that I`ve handled in 20 years of trapping,"Sumiller added, estimating the male to be more than 50 years old.

"The community was relieved," he told AFP, but added: "We`re not really sure if this is the man-eater, because there have been other sightings of other crocodiles in the area."

The team, employed by a government-run crocodile breeding farm, began laying bait using chicken, pork and dog meat on August 15, but the reptile simply bit off both meat and line the it was skewered on.

An eight milimetre (0.31-inch) metal cable finally proved beyond the power of its jaws and the beast was subdued at a creek on Saturday with the help of about 30 local men.

The local government decided against putting down the reptile and will instead use him as the main attraction at a planned nature park in the area.

"He`s a problem crocodile that needs to be taken from the wildlife so that it can be used for eco-tourism," Sumiller said.

Crocodylus porosus or estuarine crocodile is the world`s largest reptile that usually grows to five or six metres long and can live up to 100 years.

While not considered an endangered species globally, it is "critically endangered" in the Philippines, where it is hunted for its hide to feed the fashion industry, de Leon said.