- uploaded: Oct 10, 2011
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The six-metre saltwater crocodile caught after a three-week hunt may be the largest ever captured alive, officials believe.
A one-tonne crocodile which may be the biggest ever caught alive has been captured in the Philippines, and officials say they are now hunting for an even bigger beast.
Villagers and veteran hunters ensnared a 6.1-metre (20ft) saltwater crocodile over the weekend after a three-week hunt in Bunawan township in Agusan del Sur province, where terrified villagers have reported at least one deadly attack.
The crocodile - weighing 1,075 kilograms (170 stone) and estimated to be at least 50 years old - is the biggest caught alive in the Philippines in recent years. Wildlife officials were trying to confirm whether it was the largest such catch in the world, Theresa Mundita Lim of the government's Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau said.
Guinness World Records lists a saltwater crocodile caught in Australia as the largest crocodile in captivity, measuring 5.48 metres. Saltwater crocodiles can live for more than 100 years and grow to 7 metres.
Relieved villagers in Bunawan, about 515 miles (830km) south-east of Manila, threw a fiesta to celebrate the capture of the crocodile, which had to be pulled by rope by about 100 people from the creek to a clearing, where a crane lifted it on to a truck.
"It was like a feast, so many villagers turned up," said the mayor, Edwin Cox Elorde.
The wildlife official Ronnie Sumiller, who has hunted "nuisance crocodiles" for 20 years and led the team behind the capture in Bunawan, said a search was under way for a larger crocodile he and villagers have seen roaming in the farming town's marshy outskirts.
"There is a bigger one and it could be the one creating problems," Sumiller told the Associated Press.
"The villagers were saying 10% of their fear was gone because of the first capture," Sumiller said. "But there is still the other 90% to take care of."
Backed by five village hunters he has trained, Sumiller has set 20 steel cable traps with an animal carcass as bait along the creek where the first crocodile was caught and in a nearby vast marshland.
Sumiller said he had found no human remains when he induced the captured crocodile to vomit.
He said he had also been summoned by Bunawan officials two years ago after a huge crocodile attacked and ate a child from a capsized boat in the marshland. The crocodile was not found at the time.
Elorde said he planned to make the captured crocodile "the biggest star" in an ecotourism park to be built to increase villagers' and tourists' awareness of the vital role the dreaded reptiles play in the ecosystem.
Philippine laws strictly prohibit civilians from killing endangered crocodiles, with violators facing up to 12 years in prison and a fine of 1m pesos (Â£14,700).
The world's most endangered freshwater variety, the crocodylus mindorensis, is found only in the Philippines, where 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, the wildlife official Glen Rebong said.
The environment secretary, Ramon Paje, said the enormous crocodile was captured because it was a threat to the community but added that the reptiles were a reminder that the country's remaining rich habitats needed to be constantly protected.
Crocodiles have been hunted in the country by poachers hoping to cash in on the high demand in wealthy Asian countries for their skin, which is coveted for products ranging from bags to mobile phone cases.