email a friend iconprinter friendly iconGustave, the Killer Crocodile
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"My fishermen were dismayed," he explained. "They told me that a colleague had been eaten by an enormous crocodile. The fishermen recognized the croc; it came around sometimes, disappeared for a few years, and then came back to kill again."

Faye took out a license to hunt and kill the culprit and began following his trail of terror up and down Lake Tanganyika. The chief in Kabezi village told him of four deaths and two disappearances. "Witnesses spoke of a large crocodile, larger than a hippo," Faye said. "Three months later, I heard of 17 more deaths. One was a 15-year-old student taken away in sight of all. Soldiers fired their Kalashnikovs at the croc but said that it swallowed the bullets."

Government officials and police authorities provided Faye with records of crocodile attacks going back to 1987 for the region surrounding Magara, Kanyosha, and Minago—the three villages along the northeastern shore of Lake Tanganyika where the majority of the attacks had occurred. The attacks happened in cycles, with a series of victims taken in rapid succession between the months of October and February, and then nothing for three years. In each instance, authorities blamed an enormous crocodile for the rampage.

At that point, all Faye had was a list of victims and stories about a huge crocodile. But which huge crocodile? The answer came on one of Faye's frequent visits to Rusizi National Park, during the spring of 1999. The park's senior guide, Habonimana Ladislas, told Faye that the park's biggest crocodile had recently reappeared after a six-month absence. Faye knew this creature; it was the fatter of two immense bulls living in the park. Whenever it was around, the thinner bull gave up its territory in the river and moved into an estuary near the town of Gatumba. Faye had already named the submissive croc Gatumba and the dominant one Gustave.

"I asked to see Ladislas's reports on the presence and absence of crocodiles," Faye said. "They showed that each of Gustave's absences from the delta corresponded directly with a period of attacks along the lakeshore."

Having fingered the giant Gustave as the killer, Faye's desire for exacting revenge waned. He now began envisioning the croc as a kind of genetic wellspring, capable of reinvigorating a flagging population of Rusizi crocs. Nile crocodiles throughout Africa were heavily hunted during the colonial era for sport and profit. Bounties were paid for croc carcasses and, in some countries, even for eggs. During the 1940s, '50s and '60s, officials routinely ignored hunting quotas, and some commercial hunters bagged more than a dozen crocs every night to sell the meat and skins.

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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.
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