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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 November, 2003, 02:28 GMT
Hong Kong crocodile eludes hunter
The authorities want to catch the crocodile in case it harms someone
An Australian hunter called by the Hong Kong authorities to catch a runaway crocodile has failed in his second attempt.

Hunter John Lever said he got close enough to throw a harpoon at the animal on Saturday - but missed.

The crocodile has outwitted Hong Kong officials for the past two weeks.

On Friday Mr Lever - who is using a small boat to hunt down the reptile in a muddy creek - first tried to lure it with chicken heads.

But the hunter said the animal was not hungry enough to take the bait.

Getting close enough to catch him is the hard part
John Lever
"There is so much food out there," he said, referring to fish.

For the second attempt on Saturday, the Australian relied on a special bamboo harpoon, which he said could capture the animal without killing it.

After this also failed Mr Lever said he would try again on Sunday.

No harm

The hunt for the crocodile has captivated Hong Kong and dominated newspaper headlines.

Mr Lever told the South China Morning Post, which has sponsored his visit: "Finding him is the easiest part. Getting close enough to catch him is the hard part. It requires a lot of stealth."

The crocodile is not native to Hong Kong. It is believed to have escaped from a home where it was kept as a pet, or a farm on the Chinese mainland.

But the authorities fear the animal could harm someone, and they are determined to track it down.

So far they have been remarkably unsuccessful. Teams of sharpshooters with tranquilizer darts failed to hit their target in front of the assembled media.

A series of traps have also failed.

On one occasion the crocodile managed to eat the food in a trap and slip away without getting caught.

But officials say they intend the animal no harm.

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