Monday, October 18, 2010

The Real Monster of the Nile

The title may seem misleading to some, but what's going on in Burundi could be the plot of a real horror movie:  An enormous Nile Crocodile has apparently developed a taste for human flesh stalks the waters looking for victims - sometimes killing people without eating the bodies.  (He recently topped's list of The Top Ten Worst Maneaters in History - a list which contains 9 other such creatures that are not just spook stories.)

He's been named Gustave, and he's very real.  He literally weighs a ton, is 20 feet long, and can be identified by the bullet wounds visible on his head.  And getting shot a few times doesn't seem to have slowed him down.  Gustave is not your normal large animal, however, because he's actually known to kill humans without eating their bodies - something that my naturalist friends tell me is impossible, since "animals only kill to eat."

Gustave has been around for 60 years and some estimate that he has killed 300 people, but it's difficult to say. Others place his kill count well below 100 (which is still horrifying).  He's the largest croc of his type ever seen, and that makes him hard to miss.  It's been two years since any confirmed kills by Gustave, but plenty of attacks have been blamed on him by locals who are certain they have seen Gustave - there aren't a lot of seven meter long specimens with bullet scars.

Is it wrong for me to call him a monster?  Some would say that he's just an animal and that I'm being misleading, but it's not that simple.  The word monster comes from a Latin word which means "that which is revealed."  Monsters don't only scare us, but they reveal things to us.  (For example, a ghost in a story might reveal to us that there is life after death - and it might scare us.)  Gustave provides a revelation of his own: nature isn't always your friend.

(And in case you're wondering, these animals can live to be 100 years old, so he's not dying of old age any time soon!)

1 comment:

  1. if he's only halfway through his life i hope that does'nt mean heas only half grown