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Possible World Record Crocodile Captured In Philippines

MANILA, Philippines ~ (AP) ~ After capturing a one-ton crocodile, which could be a world record for largest croc ever caught alive, officials said they are still hunting for an even bigger beast.

Veteran hunters, working with trained local villagers, ensnared a 20-foot saltwater crocodile on September 4th after a three-week hunt in Bunawan township, located in the Agusan del Sur province. The crocodile weighs 2,370 pounds and is believed to be at least 50 years old. The croc is the largest ever taken alive in the Philippines in recent years and wildlife officials are currently trying to confirm if it's the largest ever captured in the world, according to Theresa Mundita Lim from the government's Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau.

Wildlife official Ronnie Sumiller, who has hunted "nuisance crocodiles" for 20 years, led the team behind the capture in Bunawan and said the search was underway for a possibly larger crocodile reported by himself and villagers, who spotted it roaming the farming town's marshy outskirts. "There is a bigger one and it could be the one creating problems," Sumiller told the Associated Press by telephone. "The villagers were saying 10 percent of their fear was gone because of the first capture," Sumiller added, "but there is still the other 90 percent to take care of." Sumiller said he found no human remains when he induced the crocodile to regurgitate; Sumiller was also summoned by Bunawan officials two years ago after a huge crocodile attacked and ate a child from a capsized boat. That crocodile was not found at the time.

Bunawan mayor Edwin Cox Elorde says there are plans to make the captured crocodile "the biggest star" in an ecotourism park to be built to increase awareness of residents and potential tourists of the vital role crocs have in the ecosystem. Pjilippine law strictly prohibits civilians from killing endangered crocodiles, with violators facing up to 12 years in jail and a fine of one million pesos ($24,000). Crocodiles have been hunted by poachers, hoping to cash in on the high demand in Asian countries for their hide, which is coveted for vanity products ranging from handbags to cellphone covers. Guiness World Records lists a saltwater crocodile captured in Australia as the largest in captivity, measuring 17 feet 11.75 inches. They can grow to lengths of 23 feet and live for more than 100 years.

Photo credit: Associated Press

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