A giant saltwater crocodile weighing more than a tonne has been caught in a remote Philippine town after a spate of attacks on humans and livestock, officials said Tuesday.
The 21-foot, 1,075-kilogramme 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 at the environment ministry, said that the beast was likely the biggest crocodile ever captured.
“Based on existing records the largest that had been captured previously was 5.48 metres long,” she said.
Sumiller said he thought the male crocodile was more than 50 years old.
“This is the biggest animal that I’ve handled in 20 years of trapping,” he said.
The Philippine specimen would easily dwarf the largest captive saltwater crocodile on record, which the Guinness World Records website says is Cassius, a 5.48-metre (about 18-foot) male.
The Australian “salty” has lived in Marineland Melanesia, an Australian nature park near Cairns for 24 years, it said.
Press reports have also cited a 20.3-foot adult male killed on the Fly River in Papua New Guinea in 1982 that was measured after it was skinned.
“The community was relieved,” Sumiller said, 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, which measured three feet (0.91 metres) across its back, simply bit off both the meat and the line it was skewered on.
An eight millimetre metal cable finally proved beyond the power of its jaws, and the beast was subdued in a relatively fast 15 minutes at a creek late Saturday with the help of about 30 local men.
Bunawan Mayor Edwin Cox Elorde said the local government had decided against putting down the reptile and will instead build a nature park for it.
“It will be the biggest star of the park,” Elorde told reporters.
Sumiller said the plan was the best option available for the reptile in Bunawan, a marshy town of about 30,000 people on the upper reaches of the massive Agusan river basin of Mindanao island.
“He’s a problem crocodile that needs to be taken from the wild… [and] used for eco-tourism,” Sumiller said.
He said the giant reptile needed a 150-square-metre (1,614-square-foot) temporary enclosure, nearly three times the normal size alloted for captive crocodiles.
Crocodylus porosus, or the estuarine crocodile, is the world’s largest reptile. It usually grows to five or six metres in length 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 which is used in the fashion industry, de Leon said.
“There have been very few sightings of porosus in the wild in the Philippines in recent years,” she added.
In July, a smaller saltwater crocodile, measuring almost 14 feet was caught on the western Philippine island of Palawan after it killed a man.
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