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Last Updated: Sunday, 31 August, 2003, 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK
Giant lizard terrorises Beirut

By Kim Ghattas
BBC Beirut correspondent

He's big, he's a carnivore, he's terrorising the neighbourhood's residents, he's been swimming in people's pools and he's already claimed victims - several cats, a dog and apparently even a horse.

Komodo Dragon
Komodo Dragons can grow to over three metres
In Lebanon, a giant lizard has been roaming the streets of a Beirut suburb for several weeks, eluding all the attempts by the authorities to catch it.

He's Lebanon's own Komodo Dragon, or so say the witnesses who have seen him.

Komodo Dragons are an endangered species and live in Indonesia.

They belong to the family of monitor lizards.

It's believed that the one living just outside Beirut was brought to Lebanon by a German who lived here and eventually set him free.

World's largest lizard
Measures up to 3.1m
Weighs up to 126kg
Numbers estimated at 1,000 to 5,000
Indigenous in Indonesia
Nicknamed 'buaya darat' or land crocodile

About three months ago, one person sighted him, but his tale was dismissed as that of a crazy person.

But when pets started disappearing, people started paying attention.

It's still possible that the dragon is not a dragon at all, but one of many kinds of monitor lizards, all of which are carnivores.

The civil defence has stationed dozens of personnel all over the area, but it lacks the sophisticated equipment needed to catch the lizard without harming it.

The civil defence is now trying to take a picture of the lizard to prove it is indeed a Komodo Dragon and sent an appeal for help to nature and science TV channels.

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