POSTED: 5:04 a.m. HST, Sep 9, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 5:09 a.m. HST, Sep 9, 2011
MANILA, Philippines >> A 20-foot saltwater crocodile that may be the world’s largest in captivity has not eaten for six days since its capture in a southern Philippine creek drew worldwide attention.
Wildlife official Ronnie Sumiller, who led the hunt for the croc nicknamed “Lolong,” said Friday the reptile is being closely observed for signs of stress.
But he said it’s normal for crocodiles to be stressed after being trapped and handled. Even in the wild, they don’t normally eat daily, and a crocodile as huge as Lolong can go without food for up to six months, Sumiller told The Associated Press.
Lolong has been placed in a 8,611-square-foot pen secured by 4-foot tall concrete walls topped by welded wire in Bunawan township, where he was caught last weekend.
“We came here to take a look, because it was reported that on the first few days of his capture ... there were big crowds and some would throw stones to make him move, so we were afraid he might become stressed,” said Theresa Mundita Lim, director of the government’s Protected Areas and Wildlife Bureau.
She flew from the capital to southern Agusan del Sur province Friday to talk with local officials about guidelines for onlookers and to inspect the crocodile’s new home 515 miles (830 kilometers) southeast of Manila.
Bunawan Mayor Edwin Cox Elorde said Lolong did not budge when a dead chicken was laid nearby to whet its appetite.
He said although officials tried to restrict the public viewing, small groups of visitors who traveled from afar pleaded to be allowed to see the reptile.
The scaly skinned Lolong — which weighs more than a ton — is estimated to be at least 50 years old. Wildlife officials were trying to confirm whether it was the largest such catch in the world, Lim said.
Its capture, after a three-week hunt, eased some fears among the locals. A crocodile killed a child in the township two years ago and is suspected of killing a fisherman who has been missing since July. Last month, residents saw a crocodile killing a water buffalo.
But Sumiller said he found no human remains when he induced Lolong to vomit. A possibly larger crocodile has been spotted in marshes in the area, and another hunt was being arranged.