A crab fisherman has been killed and half-eaten by a huge saltwater crocodile, the latest in a growing number of attacks on a remote Philippine island, police said Wednesday.
The family and neighbours of Rebente Ladja, 37, launched a search after he failed to return home Monday from setting crab traps at a mangrove forest on the coast of Balabac, off the country's main southwestern island of Palawan.
"They found his mangled remains at the swamp that night, with a huge crocodile beside it. The crocodile had consumed the upper half of his body," Balabac police officer Allan Vic Macasil told AFP by telephone.
He said it was the fifth crocodile attack in Balabac in less than six years.
A 12-year-old niece of Ladja was dragged away by a crocodile at a nearby village three months ago and had not been found, Macasil added.
A crocodile bit a Balabac woman last October but she survived, while two other residents of the mainly fishing island had been killed by the reptiles since 2012, he said.
The last crocodile attack in the region was near the town of Bataraza, on the southern tip of Palawan, last December.
A 53-year-old man was fatally attacked while securing his boat as Tropical Storm Tembin closed in.
Palawan province, which includes Balabac and Bataraza, is often called the Philippines' "last frontier" and is one of the few areas in the country where crocodiles are still common.
Hunting and habitat loss have seen their numbers plummet in other parts of the Asian archipelago nation.