So long, Lolong.
On Sunday, the world’s largest saltwater crocodile died in captivity in the Philippine town of Bunawan, located 515 miles southeast of Manila. Villagers are in mourning after the 21-foot-long, 2,370-pound crocodile named “Lolong” turned over its bloated stomach and died, according to a Feb. 10 AP report. An autopsy will be performed on Monday.
It’s unclear how many humans Lolong may have eaten. The massive reptile was discovered in the jungles of the southern Philippines in September 2011. Local officials initiated a hunt when a child died in 2009 and a fisherman went missing some time after. Additionally, several water buffaloes were found to have been killed. Wildlife authorities warned local villagers to avoid saltwater marshes. However, fisherman need to venture to the area to catch fish.
Villagers noticed that the crocodile had a bloated stomach, advancing the theory that it may have munched on something that its digestive system could not handle (such as an entire cow). Animals in the wild, such as crocs and snakes, can die from overeating. For example, watch this video of a python swallowing an entire alligator.
The 21-foot Lolong was named after a government environmental officer who died from a heart attack after trying to capture the giant croc. Given its immense jaw and teeth, Lolong would have given anyone with cardiovascular problems a heart attack.
There won’t be any handbags or purses made from this giant croc. In the coming days, the town of Bunawan will hold funeral rites for the world’s largest saltwater crocodile and preserve its remains in a museum. The over-sized predator had been attracting tourists to the small village since its capture in 2011.
Nearly 100 villagers participated in the hunt for the 21-foot-long crocodile after local folk felt terrorized by the monster for nearly 20 years. It took 30 men to secure Lolong in a nearby creek through the use of steel cable and rope. The hunters baited Lolong with meat that had metal snare attached. It was then transported to a farm through the use of a crane and commercial struck.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the second largest crocodile in captivity is an 18-footer in Australia. Scientists estimate that such creatures can shred its prey with a force of one ton per square-inch, a grip which is believed to be stronger than extinct dinosaurs such as the T-Rex.
Lolong is estimated to be more than 50 years old, although saltwater crocodiles can live up to 100 years. Ironically, many occupants of Bunawan (population of 37,000) grew to love their tormentor, according to the AP report. (Talk about being in an abusive relationship with what is essentially a serial killer.)
The massive reptile was captured in the Agusan marsh in the southern Philippines, a sprawling and bio-diverse area that features wet jungles, swamp forests, shallow lakes, lily-covered ponds, and wetlands. Agusan is home to dozens of threatened species such as the Philippine Hawk Eagle. The Southeast Asian nation is also believed to be the only country to host a “monkey-eating eagle,” a type of bird that has significantly dwindled due to deforestation and human encroachment of its natural habitat.
Even though Lolong is dead, locals aren’t assuming the area is safe. It’s highly likely that other massive reptiles are lurking around Agusan and its immediate surroundings.
Despite the gruesome deaths, local villagers will perform a tribal ritual that includes butchering chicken and pigs as funeral offerings to thank forest spirits for the “blessings” the crocodile has brought. (The other animals must be asking themselves: “What did I do to deserve getting my head chopped off?”)
Mayor Edwin Cox Elorde said, “The whole town, in fact the whole province, is mourning. My phones kept ringing because people wanted to say how affected they are.” Elorde also said that he took care of Lolong as if it were his “adopted son”.
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