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Old 11-14-03, 02:40 PM   #1 (permalink)
Edwin's Avatar
Join Date: Jul-2002
Location: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 2,355
Croc eludes expert

Quote: "simple croc-catching strategy: "I would just walk in and grab it."

HONG KONG - An Australian crocodile expert failed on his first night Friday to catch a rouge croc that has outwitted Hong Kong officials for almost two weeks.

Croc hunter John Lever told reporters he caught glimpses of the 4-foot reptile from his small boat and even touched it with his hand before the beast disappeared in a murky creek.

The Australian spent more than three hours sitting in the boat and scouring the creek with a light before deciding to give it up for the night.

The crocodile has become a local media sensation after Hong Kong officials tried in vain to capture it for nearly two weeks.

Saying earlier that catching a crocodile is never a "piece of cake," Lever said he will resume the hunt Saturday.

Lever had been quoted before arriving in Hong Kong as offering a simple croc-catching strategy: "I would just walk in and grab it."

But after taking a look at the creek that the croc calls home, Lever devised a more complex plan, putting chicken heads on the end of sturdy fishing lines in the hope that the croc would take the bait.

The croc expert from Queensland state then wants to capture the beast with his hands.

Lever said Hong Kong conservation officers had been "unlucky, very unlucky actually" when the croc walked into traps that had been baited with chicken but then walked back out.

Hong Kong also deployed teams of officers armed with tranquilizer darts, but as they approached in small boats the croc slid into the water and got away.

Hong Kong has no native crocodile species and officials believe this one might be a former pet that had been kept here illegally or an escapee from a mainland Chinese farm.

Locals have suggested naming the croc after famous designer handbags Gucci or after local tycoons.

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