So, too, has Gustave's international renown. Our story, posted on Adventure's website, has received more hits than any other in the magazine's nine-year history. Web traffic soared after the January 2007 release of Disney's Primeval, a based-on-true-events gorefest starring a cheesy computer-generated giant crocodile named Gustave. Let's not dwell on whose story inspired the screenwriters (we were briefly thrilled when a top studio executive phoned in March 2005 to say that she'd read our article and proposed a deal, which subsequently evaporated in a feeding frenzy of lawyers and producers), but theirs involves a crew of American TV journalists dispatched to "one of the most remote locations on Earth" to hunt down and apprehend "the world's most prolific serial killer." Set in Burundi but filmed in South Africa, the movie, said Faye, "is an insult to purists and herpetologists but, above all, an insult to Burundi.
"It shows the country in a bad light, and the people of Burundi are made out to be savages, barbarians, thieves, and murderers," he told us. "The only good Burundian in the movie ends up being rescued and taken to the United States." The digitized Gustave gallops across the screen like "a champion of cross-country races who devours campsites and cars, climbs trees, and swallows boats," Faye wrote in an indignant letter to Burundi's newspapers. "In short, poor Gustave is a victim of fantasies and becomes more monstrous than ever."
The real-life Gustave is monstrous enough and not nearly as cryptic as we had thought. "I had a pretty clear idea of his movements for the past three years," Faye said. "I have a lot of sources—fishermen, pilots who fly over the lake—and even though I wasn't getting day-to-day information, I knew where he was."
Last spring, for example, Faye received regular reports from the village of Ruziba, just south of Bujumbura, Burundi's capital. At least one fatal attack there could be credibly pinned on Gustave, who apart from his sheer size bears distinctive bullet scars: one on his head, three on his right side.