Philippine Hunters Net Colossal Crocodile, But a Bigger One May Still Lurk

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Residents use their hands to measure a 21-foot saltwater crocodile, which is suspected of having attacked several people, after it was caught in Nueva Era in Bunawan town, Agusan del Sur, southern Philippines

Steve Irwin would have been proud of this beaut.

A giant crocodile caught in the Philippines at the weekend — stretching a fearsome 21 feet and weighing a whopping 2,370 pounds — could be the largest of its kind captured alive. But its hunters are on the lookout for an even larger one still lurking out there.

It took 100 people to drag the behemoth reptile from the Agusan del Sur marsh, on the southern island of Mindinao, on Sept. 4 after a team of about 30 men tracked the saltwater crocodile for three weeks. They eventually ensnared it using meat bait and a metal cable, according to the country’s GMA News.

(MORE: Remembering Steve Irwin: The 5 Most Memorable Crocodile Hunter Videos)

The searches began after a farmer went missing in July from the town of Bunawan, about 515 miles southeast of the capital Manila, and a villager reported witnessing a huge crocodile take down a water buffalo last month. Locals also suspected a crocodile of killing a 12-year-old girl whose head was bitten off two years ago.

But after snaring the monster male reptile and forcing it to vomit, officials found no trace of human remains or water buffaloes in its stomach contents – meaning the hunt goes on, wildlife official Ronnie Sumiller told the Associated Press.

“There is a bigger one, and it could be the one creating problems,” said Sumilier, who’s spearheading the continued search. “The villagers were saying 10 percent of their fear was gone because of the first capture,” he added. “But there is still the other 90 percent to take care of.”

(MORE: How Crocodiles Travel by Surfing Ocean Currents)

Locals have named the current catch Lolong, after local hunter Ernesto “Lolong” Conate, who died of a stroke while helping in the hunt, and threw a party to celebrate the capture.

Lolong looks set to enter the official record books, easily dwarfing the largest saltwater crocodile currently in captivity, which the Guinness World Records lists as Cassius, an 18-foot male netted in Australia.

Edwin Cox Elorde, Mayor of Bunawan, said Lolong will become the star attraction of a new eco-tourism park to be built in the area.

Crocodylus porosus, or the estuarine crocodile, is the world’s largest reptile. It grows to 5 or 6 meters in length and can live up to 100 years. (via CNN)

Joe Jackson is a contributor at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @joejackson. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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