email a friend iconprinter friendly iconGustave, the Killer Crocodile
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In Burundi the majority of crocodile attacks go unreported, because they involve faceless "little people," as Faye calls them. After two days of not finding Gustave among the reeds of the Rusizi delta or along Lake Tanganyika's shore, we turn to these victims for clues.

One of the few Burundians who survived an attack—by Gustave, he claims—is a young barber named Hatungimana Audifax. His surname, Hatungimana, means "God keep you safe" in Kirundi. Audifax works out of a roadside stall in Bujumbura. It's bedlam in the streets, so we ask if he'll join us for a drink at our hotel's bar. He walks quickly and expertly on crutches handmade of steel pipe while his neighborhood buddies tease him: "Hey, Audifax, you're the big star today." He flashes a grin at them, but his face turns serious as he climbs into our Land Cruiser.

"It was seven years ago, when I was 13," he says, sucking on his teeth for emphasis at the end of each sentence. "Around 11:30 in the morning, my friends and I went for a swim. They say people on shore were shouting 'crocodile!' but I didn't hear them. The croc grabbed me by the leg. At first, I thought it was one of my friends. I looked back and saw this thing that was huge and old. Then I felt the pain. It was unbelievable."

Nearby fishermen beat the water with long poles, startling the attacker enough for it to loosen its grip on Audifax's leg, and he swam desperately toward shore with the croc right behind.

"It was like he was escorting me," the barber continues. "He didn't attack, maybe because the fishermen were beating on the water. I turned to look at him and our eyes met. My leg was crushed and some of the calf muscle was torn off. I was almost losing my mind because of the pain."

Doctors said there was no hope for Audifax's leg and amputated it below the knee. How does he know the croc was Gustave? "I'll tell you how," he shoots back. "While I was in the hospital, I heard that four other people were attacked and eaten at the same beach. Five attacks at one beach: That's how Gustave is."

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