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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 November, 2003, 09:34 GMT
Hunter gives up on HK croc
Hong Kong crocodile
Mr Lever was called in after the crocodile evaded local officials
Hong Kong's fugitive crocodile appears to have won the first round of a long drawn-out attempt to catch it in the marshes close to the border with mainland China.

An Australia hunter, called in to track down the reptile, is heading home after his failure over two weeks to snare the beast.

"I am extremely frustrated and disappointed by the whole thing," John Lever, 61, told the BBC's World Today programme.

"The crocodile's outwitted us all," he said.

A team of Chinese experts is now being recruited to take on the challenge.

The 1.5 metre long animal was first sighted in the territory on 2 November, the first ever crocodile seen there in the wild.

It is believed to be on the run from a mainland crocodile farm, or a home where it was kept as a pet.

Obstacles

Mr Lever was called in after local officials were humiliated by the crocodile calmly evading their traps.

He has fared little better.

If they do catch the croc, I'll see that I've played a part in that ... and I'll be very happy
John Lever
Crocodile hunter
The presence of some 600 spectators and 200 journalists had helped thwart his efforts, according to Mr Lever.

"We damn near had it on the first night... I was just about to grab it and the spotlights turned on... the croc took one look at me, and hid," Mr Lever told the BBC's World Today.

He said that the marshy terrain had also proved an obstacle, with soupy mud that is impossible to walk through, but an easy swim for the crocodile.

Mr Lever has been training local officials in the art of trapping so that they can take over the hunt.

They will also be joined by two experts from the Chinese mainland.

But Mr Lever was sceptical about their chances.

"They've got no experience in hunting, they're handlers," he said.

But he wished them well.

"If they do catch the croc, I'll see that I've played a part in that .... and I'll be very happy," he said.


WATCH AND LISTEN
John Lever, crocodile hunter
"The crocodile's outwitted us all"



SEE ALSO:
Crocodile foils new capture bid
17 Nov 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Hong Kong crocodile eludes hunter
16 Nov 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Hong Kong crocodile hunt begins
14 Nov 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Croc hunter heads for Hong Kong
11 Nov 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Croc on the loose in Hong Kong
04 Nov 03  |  Asia-Pacific


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