Notorious Man-Eater: Giant Gustave

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Gustave is a massive Nile crocodile living in Burundi. Estimated to be at least 6 metres (20 ft) in length and weighing around 1 ton, he is the largest crocodile ever seen in Africa. However, in parts of Asia and Australia there are 6 m saltwater crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus) that are well known and easy to spot; individuals 7 metres (23 ft) long have been reported. In eastern India the Guinness Book of World Records has confirmed the existence of a 7 m individual. Therefore, Gustave is not exceptional in size compared to other crocodiles. He is, however, a notorious man-eater, who is rumored to have claimed as many as 300 victims from the banks of the Ruzizi River and the northern shores of Lake Tanganyika. While this number is likely greatly exaggerated, Gustave has attained a near-mythical status and is greatly feared by people in the region.

Gustave was named by Patrice Faye, a French resident of Burundi and self-taught naturalist who has been pursuing the crocodile since 1998. Faye and a documentary team attempted to capture Gustave in 2002 using an enormous trap, but the crocodile not only avoided it, but seemed to taunt the team as well. The ill-fated attempt was detailed in a somewhat sensationalized documentary titled Capturing the Killer Croc, which aired on PBS in May 2004.

Based on his size, Gustave is estimated to be at least 65 years old. He was sighted most recently in January 2007. He is known for the bullet scars that cover his body.

Since he is too big and heavy to catch smaller prey like small mammals and fish, he catches larger, heavier animals like wildebeest, humans and zebra. According to a park ranger, Gustave has even killed and eaten an adult hippopotamus, which would normally be able to bite a smaller crocodile in half.

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