email a friend iconprinter friendly iconGustave, the Killer Crocodile
Page [ 10 ] of 16

In light of the Tsavo lions, consider the following scenario: As the human population of the Rusizi delta has swollen during 15 years of war, once plentiful numbers of antelope, elephant, and other game have been decimated. Doesn't it make sense that when careless humans replaced wary antelope along the river's banks, meat-seeking crocodiles might have changed their dietary habits accordingly? Such a theory gains weight when one considers another source of human flesh: casualties of the civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that have been thrown into the Rusizi in such numbers that they are reported to have clogged the river's mouth. Gustave's unholy feeding habit may be just another grotesque consequence of the violence that has gripped this region for decades.

Leslie offers another plausible theory about Gustave's legendary, but, to her, improbable, victim count: It's a catchall for the toll of war, accidental drownings, and unexplained disappearances. But, after interviewing families in Gatumba, she doesn't discount the fact that Gustave has eaten numerous people. "It was definitely Gustave they described," she says. "People know him from his markings." The tip-off, apart from Gustave's size, is that dark scar on his head.

The tracking device Barr is bringing should reveal exactly how lethal Gustave is. "If there were an attack on a villager," Barr told me before the expedition, "we could say, 'Well, Gustave was six kilometers away at the time.'" Other questions about Gustave's anatomy, physiology, and genetics will be resolved with a measuring tape, a bite-force meter, and blood and tissue samples, which, as Leslie says, "would tell a hundred and one tales about him."

Step one, however, is to impound Gustave. Barr plans to slip a cable noose around his neck from a small boat and drag him to shore. Faye, the leader of our advance group, is understandably ambivalent about his bit part as expert consultant in Barr's TV show, but he continues to help in finding Gustave. Over his years of tracking him, he's developed a strange connection to the creature.

"He is my friend," says Faye. "We know each other. We are survivors and soul mates."

Page [ 10 ] of 16
Join the discussion

National Geographic Adventure is pleased to provide this opportunity for you to share your comments about this article. Thanks for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Recent Comments
  • Its great to know that such creatures are still existing on our planet.But for the betterment of peo…
  • gustaf is a huge croc ive seen it myself it eats wilderbeast like we eat crisps.and should not be ki…
  • Has gustav been caught
  • I REALLY like this article and i think that they should take Gustave to the wild , a place with no h…
  • Actually, as of January '09, Gustave is still alive and kicking. And still roaming the Rusizi river.
Read All »