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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 November, 2003, 08:45 GMT
Croc hunter heads for Hong Kong

By Chris Hogg
BBC correspondent in Hong Kong

Hong Kong's government has announced it will accept the offer of help from an Australian crocodile hunter to capture the beast which has so far eluded efforts to trap it for the last 10 days.

The change of heart is an attempt to stem the flow of negative media coverage as its own officials struggle to catch the crocodile.

The reptile has been swimming up and down a stretch of river in a suburban area of Hong Kong and the authorities are concerned it might attack someone.

Confronting a crocodile of that size, if you've never had any experience, it's quite a frightening time
John Lever, crodocile hunter
Teams of sharpshooters armed with tranquiliser darts were unable to corner the beast.

Cages suspended in the water with bait did not work either.

At just 1.2 metres long the croc is no monster but it has proved a wily opponent for the local officials sent to capture it.

So now the government has turned to the experts. It has accepted an offer of help from an Australian crocodile hunter, John Lever.

Mr Lever, who said he learnt to grapple crocodiles from a crocodile clan in New Guinea, told the BBC he would just walk in and grab it.

"A crocodile of that size is not that threatening," he told the BBC's World Today programme.

The costs of his trip will be met by a local newspaper and various tourism companies - ensuring no doubt the saga will end in a blaze of publicity. Its celebrity status assured, the crocodile will then be taken to a new home being prepared for it at Hong Kong zoo.

The BBC's Chris Hogg reports from Hong Kong
"It's no monster but big enough to cause the authorities a major problem"

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