A one-ton saltwater crocodile was captured alive by villagers and veteran hunters in the township of Bunawan, Agusan del Sur, Philippines, after three weeks of hunting. They are planning to make it the star of a planned ecotourism park in the province.
The male crocodile measures 21 feet (6.4 meters) in length and around 3 feet (0.914 meters) in width, with a weight of 2,370 pounds (1,075 kilograms). Quoting local crocodile experts, Bunawan Mayor Cox Elorde said it could be one of the largest crocodiles to be captured in the recent years.
After residents reported a series of attacks in the area, Mayor Elorde sought the help of experts in a crocodile farm in western Palawan.
After initial sightings at Mangasngag Creek in the Agusan del Sur province, The local government, with the help of Protected Wildlife Animal Bureau of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), set up 12 traps, four of which the crocodile easily destroyed. Then, they replaced the traps with sturdier ones with steel cables. Finally, one of the traps ensnared the enormous reptile late Saturday.
According to Ronald Nuer, Bunawan Municipal Council project director, it took the wildlife officials 21 days to finally capture the fearsome animal. After being caught, the croc managed to break free from its restraints twice and even became very aggressive on several occasions.
Mayor Elorde said that the crocodile killed a water buffalo in an attack that was witnessed by the villagers last month. It was also suspected to have killed a fisherman who went missing in July. There were several other recent attacks in the area in which the villagers believe that this particular crocodile is the culprit. In 2010, a young girl disappeared near the Agusan Marsh, but they are not sure if the same creature was responsible for it.
ABS-CBN News reported that the experts irrigated the crocodile’s stomach in an attempt to confirm if it is indeed the same crocodile that Wen Elorde, a resident in the village, caught on camera attacking a water buffalo. In the picture that he showed on television, the head of the crocodile was comparable to the size of the water buffalo’s body.
“We were nervous but it’s our duty to deal with a threat to the villagers,” Mayor Elorde told Associated Press over the phone. “When I finally stood before it, I couldn’t believe my eyes.”
It took 100 people to pull the heavy reptile from the creek to a clearing where a crane lifted it into a truck, Mayor Elorde said. It was then placed in a fenced cage in an area where the town is planning to build an ecotourism park for species found in a vast marshland in Agusan, an impoverished region about 515 miles (830 kilometers) southeast of Manila, said Elorde. The crocodile is considered to be a protected animal.
“It will be the biggest star of the park,” Elorde said. He also added that the villagers were very happy that the dangerous crocodile will be turned “from a threat into an asset.”
Although the big croc was already captured, villagers are still wary because they know that several other crocodiles still roam around the outskirts of the farming town of 37,000 people. The mayor warned everyone to avoid venturing into marshy areas especially at night.
According to an Associated Press report, if confirmed, the captured crocodile would be bigger than the 5.5-meter saltwater crocodile in Cairns, Australia, named Cassius, which presently hold the Guinness World Record for the world’s biggest captive crocodile. Cassius is believed to be at least 100 years old.