Following a nearly decade-long hunt, a massive saltwater crocodile has been captured in northern Australia, according to wildlife authorities.
Rangers caught the crocodile Monday after setting a trap on a private property near Katherine, a town in Northern Territory, Australia.
The evasive crocodile is said to be one of the largest trapped in the region, which is not far from the Nitmiluk and Kakadu national parks.
It was estimated to be about 60 years old, but it is the reptile’s size that is shocking – measuring more than 15 feet (4.5 metres) long (the average length of a car) and weighing more than 1,300 pounds (590 kilograms) (which is more than a grand piano), according to the Katherine Times.
“It is a bit of a thrill,” wildlife ranger John Burke told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, “but you’ve also got to admire the size of the animal and how old it is. You’ve got to have a bit of respect for it.”
Rangers had been on the lookout for the giant creature since it was first seen nearly 10 years ago.
In May, rangers saw three crocodiles while surveying the land, according to the Katherine Times. A trap was then set a couple of weeks ago near Katherine River – and the crocodile, dubbed “big fella”, swam right into it.
A smaller crocodile, measuring almost eight feet, was also captured, according to the newspaper.
Ranger Chris Heydon told the Katherine Times that once in the trap, the giant reptiles are sedated, “so there is no chance of us getting chomped.”
The crocodile, a male, was “removed” to “help prevent human interaction in the more populated areas,” the Northern Territory Parks and Wildlife said in a Facebook post.
The post included a photo showing the crocodile tied down on a trailer with duct tape around its jaw. The caption warned: “Large crocodiles can move around Top End waterways undetected and you should always Be Crocwise.”
The Associated Press reported that the reptile was taken to live on a crocodile farm outside the town.
The average saltwater crocodiles, or Crocodylus porosus, can live up to about 70 years, according to National Geographic, and during that time, can grow 17 feet (5.1 metres) long and weigh 1,000 pounds (450 kilograms).
There are an estimated 100,000 saltwater crocodiles in Australia’s Northern Territory.
According to the government, the largest saltwater crocodile caught in a net in the region was pulled from Mary River in 1974. The creature, which was more than 20 feet (6 feet) long, was killed and its head removed by an ax, according to the website.
The largest crocodile caught in a “trap” was more than 16 feet (4.8 metres), and the largest one “harpooned” by rangers was also more than 16 feet (4.8 metres), it states.
The government said that each year, rangers remove about 250 “problem crocodiles” from the area.
“These crocodiles are transferred to crocodile farms or destroyed,” according to the website.
“Trapped crocodiles can’t be relocated to their natural habitat due to costs and because they can travel large distances to return to their home range.”
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This article was originally published by The Washington Post.