“Happy Dreams”: A Sleeping Crocodile
Nile Crocodile - Crocodylus niloticus
Nile crocodiles are the largest crocodilian (and reptile) in Africa, and are second in size only to saltwater crocodiles (Steve Irwin’s salties!), which are native to Australia and its surrounding seas.
However, saltwater crocodiles, while aggressive, don’t have the tendency to turn out “man hunters” like the Nile crocodiles do. This is largely because the Australian coastline is protected enough that native prey is still available at a level where predatory animals can survive. Nile crocodiles, however, do not have this advantage; the majority of the Nile crocodile range (aside from central Africa) has a high degree of overfishing and pollution of the freshwater rivers, to the point that some Nile crocs have turned to humans as a source of food.
One of these “man-eaters” is named Gustave - believed to be between 40 to 60 years old, he weighs about one ton (2000 lbs or ~900 kg), and is known to have eaten at least 300 humans in his lifetime. If sources with uncertain credibility are taken into account, he may have eaten upwards of 800 humans, including over 200 able-bodied adult males. Gustave’s home range is a section of the Ruzizi river near the border of Burundi and Rwanda, where several other “man-eating” crocodiles are known to live. Due to the ongoing civil wars that have been taking place in that region, people have been driven to the rivers as a sole source of food (as crop farms were frequently raided and/or burned), and the local terrestrial fauna has also been greatly reduced. Gustave’s attacks are only known to have begun around 30 years ago, though he would have been large enough to easily kill a human around 4-5 years of age. This puts his consumption of people as a direct result of the changing dietary habits of civilians, during the times of civil unrest.
The Uganda Protectorate. Sir Harry Johnston, 1902.