Gustave the Crocodile – a Legend and a Killer

On the continent of Africa, in the muddy current of the Ruzizi River to the blue water of Lake Tanganyika lies a man-eating monster. Burundi natives fear him for he has allegedly killed over 300 people. The monster is an enormous Nile crocodile, and his name is Gustave.

The people of Burundi have spoke of Gustave for decades; witnessed him claim the lives of friends and family. Some say his whole body is red, while others say he is the devil. Regardless, he has struck fear into those who know his name.

Claims have been made of Gustave devouring an adult hippopotamus, a mammal Nile crocodiles tend to avoid. However, the most bone-chilling stories pin him as a merciless killer, stating he kills for sport and leaves the bodies of his victims uneaten.

Spear wound is visible on right shoulder (2004) Photo credit:

Speculations have been made as to why Gustave preys on humans. Due to his large size and heavy weight, he is not as agile as other crocodiles. Therefore, he may have to resort to prey on larger animals.

Another reason is Burundi’s location: right along the banks of the Ruzizi River and Lake Tanganyika. Daily, the people of Burundi near the water’s edge to collect water, and enter the water to fish. Although it is essential for life, it places them within striking distance of Nile crocodiles, particularly Gustave.

Though he is a seasoned hunter, Gustave has had close calls. Three bullet holes cover the right side of his body, while a scar remains on his right shoulder from the head of a spear.

Wounds on Gustave supposedly inflicted by a machine gun Photo credit:

Although Gustave’s true length and weight is unknown, it has been estimated he is over 19.7 feet and over 2,000 pounds. Age is also not known, but has been said he was born in 1955, which would make him 65.

Nile crocodiles have indeterminate growth, meaning they continue to grow after maturity, but at much slower rates. Therefore, Gustave will only get bigger with time.

The mouth of Gustave can easily swallow a human, though hard to see in the low light. Photo credit:

A 2004 film titled Capturing the Killer Croc follows scientist Patrice Faye in an attempt to capture Gustave. Though unsuccessful, Faye’s team was able to capture Gustave on film. An incredible feat, given his illusiveness.

Today, Gustave can neither be confirmed alive nor dead. He has not been seen since 2015, when spotted on a riverbank pulling a buffalo. Has he died, or is he lurking beneath the surface, patiently waiting to strike again…

To watch Capturing the Killer Croc, click here:

Gustave 2004 Photo credit:

Sources of information:

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