Some monsters are real

26 01 2007

Last night my wife and I got to have a little Mystery Science Theater 3000-type viewing of the recently released stinkbomb, Primeval, as we were the only two people in the theater (the only other people in the theater left about 1/3 of the way through). I grew up watching bad movies, films like Alligator (written by John Sayles, no less) being among my favorites (see Orca, Tentacles, Piranha, Prophecy, THEM!, Frogs, Grizzly, etc. for more examples) and almost always on TV every other month or so via TNT/Sci-Fi/TBS/FOX. Come to think of it, I spent a good deal of my childhood watching monster movies (begging my parents to stay up late), playing with my Legos and trying not to think about the weird noises in the night that became all-too-abundant after the film ended. I never really grew out of the phase, seeking out real life monsters rather than giving them up, and I still love anything that has to do with dinosaurs, sharks, crocodiles, or man-eating monsters born via radioactive sludge in films, expecting nothing much and having a good time ripping on the bad production values. If it gives you any indication of the quality of the movie, Primeval gave my wife and I plenty of material to riff on.

Before I go any further, I do want to say thank you to my wife for coming along with me to the film, indulging my boyish tendency to go out and watch monster movies even though I know they’re going to be utterly appalling. As she commented after we left the theater, she was surprised Primveal got a theatrical release, the special effects just a step above horrid Sci-Fi Channel original movies like Mammoth (the worst movie I have EVER seen, EVER!) and Attack of the Sabertooth. Indeed, during the first nighttime appearance of the films killer crocodile, it looked like it was a CGI-version of the old stop-motion animation style of Willis O’Brien or Ray Harryhausen, exaggerated and fast movements of the featured creature in order to make it seem more “lifelike.” Even when we got to see the croc in full daylight, the CGI paled in comparison to what could have been achieved with puppets, and giving it an endless supply of stamina as it awkwardly galloped after Orlando Jones was incredibly silly. Granted, crocodiles look silly when they “gallop” anyway, but whoever did the biomechanics research for this movie obviously has never seen a fast-moving crocodilian. I really don’t understand why move companies put so much into crappy CGI-rendered monsters when puppets look better and add to the realism of the film; the sharks in the film Deep Blue Sea looked great as puppets but horrid as CGI-rendered monsters. There’s plenty of gore in the film as well, but usually it’s so dark it’s hard to make out what exactly is being ripped apart (except at the end when the crocodile pops the main human antagonists head like a grape), and in classic movie-monster style it knows how to take out underwater supports of a pier in order to get at the humans, it literally sniffs out the bad guy at the end, it eats a soldier about to rape a woman, it has an endless amount of energy & cunning, so really nothing like a real crocodile at all. What is more frightening to me are the real animals, the ones that are so swift, deadly, and quiet that you often attacks are little more than someone bathing never to you and then they’re suddenly gone in a swirl of water. Such is an account in the car-wreck of a coffee table book The Eyelids of Morning, in which a young man was standing on a rock in a body of water and then he suddenly wasn’t there, appearing a short way downriver in the jaws of a Nile Crocodile, which later was caught and the young man’s legs were extracted from the crocs stomach (framed in a blood-spattered cardboard box in the book). Such events are enough to keep me out of Africa’s rivers, lakes, and streams.

Primeval would have been bad enough if it was simply concocted by a group of executives who decided that Lake Placid was a great work of cinema, but it’s actually loosely inspired by a real killer crocodile named Gustave (named by Burundians for a ruthless president during civil war). Studied almost exclusively by Patrice Faye, a French self-proclaimed naturalist, Gustave lives in the waterways of Burundi, especially Lake Tanganyika and Rusizi River, reportedly reaching a length of 20 feet and weighing a ton (suggesting he has long surpassed the average 45-year longevity of most Nile Crocodiles). Such a large crocodile is enough to make people afraid by merit of its size alone, but Gustave has been charged with over 200 human deaths (as well as one adult hippo), the body count going ever-higher.


The above picture is one of the few I’ve seen of Gustave, the few pictures floating around on the internet not having much for scale in the pictures and most of the pictures Faye has taken have not made it to public viewing, apparently. While on assignment to track down the killer croc, the National Geographic team dispatched never found Gustave, and there has been little to no news about the whereabouts of the creature since 2005. The National Geographic article about the expedition has an editor’s note update, suggesting that Gustave has not been seen since at least November of 2006 (the rainy season making it difficult to track him), although 10 more deaths have been added to the list of fatalities. There is little doubt that Gustave has killed many people, but many remain skeptical of his legendary appetite for human flesh, seeming more like a catch-all explanation whenever anyone goes missing or gets taken by any crocodile. Indeed, how can you tell the size (or identity) of a crocodile when they are underwater? The one characteristic that seems to confirm the genuine attacks from other incidents is the fact that Gustave bears a dark scar on his head, something that is independently confirmed by those who get a good look at him during attacks. We know crocodiles kill and eat many people in various parts of the world every year (there’s no such thing as a “man-eating crocodile” because at least for saltwater and Nile crocodiles, they all have the propensity to do it if the opportunity arises), and it’s easy to believe that a crocodile of such gargantuan size would have an appetite to match, but there seems to be little actual evidence to back this up. Indeed, I haven’t seen any official reports made, books published, or other scientific discussions of case studies for those supposedly killed by Gustave (as is done with shark attacks via the Global Shark Attack File) and Faye doesn’t seem in much of a hurry to get empirical data out to the scientific community at large. Sure, everyone knows of Gustave and would like to catch him for study, but he has become more of a living legend to be captured/exploited than an actual animal to be studied. If Gustave is anything like the mythology makes him out to be, such a case study would be very illuminating from the perspective of ethology and human/ecological interactions, but it seems that the few scientists who have gone there have been so enthralled with trying to catch Leviathan for the cameras that all other empirical study doesn’t mean very much. I don’t mean this as a put-down to people like Brady Barr (the scientist who went with National Geographic), but what if we took the focus off trying to catch the animal and instead tried to figure out what the role of such a huge animal is in an ecosystem and what he is eating.

I don’t know if the mystery of Gustave will ever be fully solved, and it is likely that his story will fade away into obscurity over time. In places that are impoverished and torn by war, who has time to think about monsters in their own backyard? Once such places become developed, then all that was once wild is either tamed or exterminated, so either way Gustave seems more like a remnant of the mystery and danger Africa used to represent when it was still (dubiously) known as the “Dark Continent,” and because such mystery and the Jungian need to still have monsters in today’s world, I don’t think we’re ever going to know as much as we should about such a magnificent animal.



56 responses

14 06 2007
justin keeling

Ive heard a lot of talk about stopping this man killer but no one has gotten any where why dont you fly some of use american rednecks over to the river and see how long he lives

19 03 2010
Mitchell Corona

If its taken human life than it needs to be put down.

15 06 2007

Justin; I haven’t head of any expeditions to kill the animal. In fact, the crocodile seems fairly difficult to find, and if he really is as big as we’re told, he could tell us a lot about crocodiles so it would be beneficial to take him alive. Also, although many, many deaths are attributed to the crocodile, the number may be greatly inflated, so “Gustave” may not be the menace some people make him out to be. I’ll update this page when and if more information becomes available.

6 07 2007

Gustave is also a great example how people overestimate and exagerate the size of animals. On some pages you could read about lengths from 8-12m. In fact Gustave is, although being a giant of its race, still only in the range of 6m. There is a footage where it can be seen swimming next to a hippo, and it seems that it is even a bit lesser than 6m in overall length.
Interestingly, it could be that the actual number of Gustave´s human victims is even underestimated, because not all reasons of vanishing people can be solved. Crocodiles kill still every years many thousand people in Africa, and if one learns that humans are easy prey, especially if it is as big as Gustave, it could be really true that it ate several hundred people over the decades.

21 07 2007
Gustave Fan

Do you think anyone will be able to capture Gustave. I just hope they capture Gustave, and put him in a zoo. So he can live in peace. Did you know there have been rumors that Gustave could even be 100 years old.

25 07 2007

Gustave, is also identifiable by broken arrow’s which are stuck in him. As well the reason his death toll is so high is because an african warlord used to feed people to him.

2 08 2007

I want to see a fight between Gustave and the prehistoric shark called a megalodon. It could be the size of a whale and people have found teeth from it to be about 7 inches or taller.

7 08 2007
Gustave Fan

I hope they’ll catch Gustave, and I hope they put him into a zoo. Where Gustave can live in peace.

12 08 2007
crocodile hater

that animal should be put to death…. it should be!!! the africans need to live in peace not the animal

19 08 2007
Gustave Fan

[This comment has been edited for content]

YOU XXXXXXX! You take that back. Don’t you realize that it’s nature. So I don’t blame Gustave to eat people But it’s nature, and they nedd to eat. Besides many people in austrailia are eaten by salties. So Gustave does eat lot of people. But it’s not his fault. That’s what Crocodiles do in nature, and for your information. …, and I love Crocodiles. Crocodiles are my favorite animals.

19 08 2007

Everyone has a right to their opinion, but I will not abide any polemic attacks on other commenter, especially wishing death upon them or racist screeds. Such comments will be edited at my discretion.

20 08 2007
Gustave Fan

Sorry about that foul language. no wonder why there are X’s on their.

3 09 2007
curious chris

just got done watchin Primeval, and I must say it wasn’t bad I liked how they didn’t stretch the truth to much and the cgs weren’t bad etiher anyway after watchin It made me curious so I looked Gustave up on here and I’m amazed at everything I have read I found where they say the last account of him was in April 2007 where he ate a 13 yr old tourist right off the boat anyway I think it’s cool how he’s still out there thanks chris

3 09 2007

It is really interesting how all this tell-tales emerge around this single crocodile…

19 09 2007

It’s all true. I Take pleasure in killing you weak humans. Yes, I do exist. And you humans are below my intelligence. You humans think you’re the most clever and successful creatures????? I think not. The brothers and I have been around for billions of years before your time. Heres proof that even working together I cannot be outsmarted. That was a tasty gift. I would say thank you, but it wasn’t intended to be a present.


23 09 2007
Gustave Fan

All hail Gustave. All hail Gustave. And yes we know you, and the other Crocs has been around before us.

27 09 2007
Chris Mallory

KILL THAT ****** ******!!!!! GUSTAVE DIES!!!!!!!!!

27 09 2007
Gustave Fan


10 10 2007
dreadly creatures' fan

I don’ think Gustave is doing nething wrong out there… if u get into ne1’s territory thn such a type of reaction is ought 2 follow as a consequence. Nodoubt crocs r the undoubted kings of water but it shows(e.g. Gustav) that the dictatorship of lion on land is in real danger out here!!!!

20 10 2007
Erkan i Norway

Dont kill Gustave, he is one of Mother earht Creatures. Dont kill him, let he live… Gustave is an Animal.. let him do whatever he want, and he is over 100 years old. Give him som Respect please. and he are born to do this.

26 10 2007

There is no actual proof that Gustave is really 100 years old. This is only the typical idea that such a beast has to be more than a century old, although there are no prooves for this.

21 11 2007

Just an animal trying to live…
The crocodile is not the most dangerous animal, the most dangerous animal are we

23 11 2007

Digi is right, besides Having a 20 ft. Long Croc at a Zoo couldn’t hurt Burubi’s Government. Hopefully, peace can be Maintaned Long enough for him to be caught. And about the “video” were are the arrows and bullet wounds on the beast? Oh Yeah and what a Wank! Brady Barr is, wrong person for the job in the first place if you ask me.

22 12 2007

humans are allowed to kill and eat. lets find gustav and eat him. i am so hungry.

11 01 2008
Crocodile Guy

Gustave is a very powerful animal he is smarter than most crocodiles that is for sure a scientist is studying crocodile intelligance and has found they can learn faster than most lab rats and even some primates so gustave may have grown some intelligance he proberly finds humans as easy prey compared to crocodiles humans are very weak frail and not fast in water gustave may have realised this and has started killing them as a primary food source and if you look at the lake he lives in hippos and other crocodiles and his only food so people would be the easier option any way some salties grow bigger than gustave but none are as bloodthirsy has him

6 02 2008

well i am pretty sure if it weren’t for that war lord feeding him dead bodies he would be like any crocodile. Also I heard that because of that he has gotten to big for his normal food source like fish and other small mammals so he can only really eat things like buffalo antelope and of course sadly people (once again one of the main reasons this happened was because of the war lord feeding him dead bodies).

26 02 2008

yeah i agree. killing Gustave is wrong, he is a crocodile, and they need food to live.. people kill all kind of animals.. Gustave is a legend, he should be free, not in a zoo!

6 03 2008

I kinda hope they never catch Gustave cause he turned into an awesome legend and shouldn’t be captured or killed, just left alone (wow that sounds stupid cause he kills people) but I kinda want to see him….with out being eaten but yea I can kinda imagine what it would be like to see such an apex predator

6 03 2008

I think they shouldn’t capture or kill Gustave cause hes become such a legend

and it would make me sad I just want to see Gustave (and not get eaten by him) if im able to just see this apex predator (sound stupid bu I dont care) then ill be able to die with a smile on my face why? cause im a huge croc lover thats why

13 03 2008

Gustave Fan (18:57:36) :

I hope they’ll catch Gustave, and I hope they put him into a zoo. Where Gustave can live in peace.

crocodile hater (00:17:47) :

that animal should be put to death…. it should be!!! the africans need to live in peace not the animal

You’re both ignorant fools. First, you say Gustave should be put in a zoo where he can live in peace. How bout this, he’s at perfect peace right now in the wild, its like saying “hey lets put Angre the Giant in jail so he can live in peace.

Second, you say the africans should live in peace, not the animal. Oh geeze where to begin. First off, only 1 village is affected by Gustava, its not like he’s a godzilla terrorizing all of Africa. And you say kill him so Africa can live in PEACE. Oh yeah, Africa is the most war torn continent in the world, killing a croc will certainly bring widespread peace to all the genociding warlords.


14 03 2008

[…] Laelaps has a great post about crocodiles and you should check it out. The post is kind of long but it […]

18 03 2008
Gustave Fan

FUCK YOU! YOU DAMN UGLY BASTARD! Gustave is a Crocodile and it ain’t it’s fault. Gustave should live liek any other Crocodiles.

18 03 2008
Gustave Fan

FUCK YOU! YOU DAMN UGLY BASTARD! Gustave is a Crocodile and it ain’t it’s fault. Gustave should live liek any other Crocodiles.

18 03 2008
Gustave Fan

Oops sorry Laelaps. Please edit my comment for the foul language.

26 03 2008

oh my what an animal! al these days i didn’t believe dat crocs have fans but now i agree……..
i don’t find it wrong in eating humans but i think it lived too much
time 4 u to go to long sleep dear GUSTAVE

5 05 2008
Mike jones

yeah, This beast needs to live in peace because it’s his nature to kill and eat people.. Typical liberal argument.. I could make this same argument with serial killers… it’s their nature to kill people and eat… leave them alone and let them do it.. blah blah. blah..

30 09 2015

People are idiots and murder at crazy rates over shoes and imaginary lines. Let him live so what I people die, its his nature. Lets kill all the great whites, and grizzly bears. Dont forget the hippos they kill people too.

26 05 2008

This croc is huge!!!!!!!! I would like to see it in real life!!!!!!!!! I think the people who try to catch it, they will get killed all of the time!!! So, don’ t try to catch it, he’s dangerooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooous! Leave him alone! Let him be free. I think that he can escape from were he’s living and come to the United States and come eat us!!!!! So be careful!!

26 05 2008

He’s a beautiful croc! I would like to work with crocodiles!!!!!!!!! So, I love crocodiles!!!!!!

26 05 2008

Gustave will be in Africa for years!!!!! So, leave him alone, let him be free! He will never be caught!!

8 06 2008

have to say, but have seen the video on the killer croc, and it is real?
when he was fronting up to a bunch of hippos,(as he has killed a bull hippo before)all the hippos did a circle to protect the young?
and from what i saw there, he def is a big bugger, the guess of his age is just over fifty, but strange thing is why does he still has all his teeth?

24 08 2008

its amazing!!! i wish to see this large ugly croc. i’m facinated by its one of the wonders of the world.

18 09 2008
gustave hater

man ill just got call the air force to blow up that shit up or terrorist to suicide bomb themselves with gustave lol!!!!!! and he ate one of my friends great grandfather

30 09 2008

ya it’s a very sharp mind creature and many peoples were got foolish by it
i think it is not fare for burundi peoples and the govt of africa should do anything with this,,

30 09 2008
FX dude

You should see the newly released ‘Rogue.’ As a croc freak, monster movie fan, and professional monster maker at Stan Winston Studios, in my professional opinion, ‘Rogue’ by Greg Mclean of ‘Wolf Creek’ fame, is the best croc-attack movie to date.
He got it right cause he’s Australian… the production value, cinematography, performances, and of course, croc fx, are all stellar. They did utilize a big croc puppet in addition to cgi and the best part is, having seen big crocs, I can say they didn’t really exaggerate all that much… unlike Lake Placid (who’s croc was built by my company), Primeval, et. al.
and Rahda Mitchell… wow..

12 11 2008

i’m frm that country nd that movie Primeval was sh* country looks far much better thn that.u shld visit to judge urselvs.abt gustave,it should be captured nd kept home.u wnt to do research,find it there.maybe tourism can be boosted!

16 12 2008

I dont think its because of warlords, if burundi is in a civil war state, then think of all the bodies dumped in lake tanganyika, gustave would have eaten them at his leasure, grown to huge size,(look at his flab), and grown a liking to human flesh.
And as for putting him in a zoo for everyone to see, that just sounds like croc cowboy Brandy Barr talking

30 09 2015

It is from both actually my African friends say they dont say to much about him because Americans will kill him. He is spotted often but still elusive. He is about 6.5m in size now. On the right tour I guess you can see him. And yes warlords use to feed victim’s to him. Messed up but they sound sincere. I want to go see him.

18 12 2008

I got done seeing Primeval it wasn’t as bad as you said but the thing is a cold blooded killer. The people who are defend it can but just ask yourself would you defend it if it killed a loved one? Also if we put someone to death just because he killed one person then why do we let something who has killed over a hundred people live. In my opinion we should kill it. And keeping it in a zoo? are you insane no zoo can feed or contain something as big as that. Also it eats people PEOPLE i don’t think keeping in a Zoo is a good idea.

18 12 2008

Also when crocs are born they are not born to eat PEOPLE they are born to kept the ecosystem in balence but then again it eating the people in Africa isn’t helping the ecosystem either I do understand that people would be a abundant food source but the people’s saftey is more important than ONE croc’s death Don’t get me wrong I would it be fine it living in the wild but i rather see it dead and I AM NOT PROMOTING THE DEATH OF CROCS!

1 03 2009

people in africa suffer with that animal..but its not a reason to kill him, wht THEIR lives have to be more inportant then HIS?? He is a magnificent creature, whts bad about him is that he eats human beings..but human beings already kill each other..maybe he is killing the innocent ones..thats not cool..actually no one diserves to doesnt gustave..making plansto kill him would be a drudgent waste of time, u should make projects to find out what minerals are missing in his body because normal crocodiles wouldnt kill US if there werent so many people living in one area, or a mineral the identify in our cells that they are in need of,they might sense it by our cent..and still killing, i thnk tht he should live , our life is not more important thn his, nor is his more thn ours…

16 04 2009
Gastave 1 fan

Gustave is a living creature. He sould live free and in peace. Plus gustave hater don’t plam the creature for his doings. it was the EMPIRE THAT MADE HIM EAT LIVING FLEASH.So let him live let him be free.

18 09 2009

lol Must dangrous animal is human nr.1 we kill over 5 millard animal every years becuase for eating meat nr.2 we kill for fun or hobby,nr.3 Animal kill not for FUN! they kill for have food! So must Dangrous Animal is Human! Thanks for you listen me:P

18 09 2009

We kill to for have a food but we kill over 5 millard hello??…!
animal kill over 1.4 millard?

19 01 2010
Abraxis Black

Ive Followed the story of Gustave Since it started. The fact is, the most interesting thing about him is not the fact that he eats people. Crocs will kill and eat anything that they can catch, and is only limited by what it can bring down. Thousands of people in africa and all over the world are killed by Crocs, and in turn thousands of Crocs are killed by people.

What makes Gustave special is his seize, because most nile crocs do not get 20ft in length. But in the world of Crocs Gustave isnt special, there have been Saltwater Crocs much bigger, and the largest on record was a Asian Croc that was shot back in the 1950s that measured 28ft.

As for Gustaves Legendary body count, It is entirely possible that over his life time of being the most dominate Bull croc in that area, That he could have killed 300 people, and considering the chaotic history of the country and its lack of records it would not surprise me if his acutal tally was even higher.

The fact is that to people that live off those river systems, Crocs are a constent danger, and compared to the Deaths that other Humans have inflicted Croc attacks are a very very very small % of yearly deaths.

The fact of the matter is that Gustave is not the only Croc in those waters that kill people, and if he happens to have killed more the most its only because hes the Largest of his kind and therfore is the Dominat male with the largest territory range.

Gustave was also NOT named for an african Warlord, the Warlord was named after Gustave. Gustave was named by Mr Faye, who origonaly noticed Gustave as the larger of Two big males in the area. And in trying to study the Giant Croc Faye noticed that many Missing persons and Croc attacks fit Gustaves movements at the time, and that after digging that many of the witnesses discribed The Large male Croc that ,Through Faye, Would become known as Gustave. The residents that live,work,and depend off the Rivers had long known about Gustave and have known about him for years before he recived his famous Name and reputation. But to them hes an animale that is to be respected, just like lions, sharks, Elephants or any other animale that shares there ecosystem with man.

Also, The theory that Gustave developed his taste for human flesh because of bodies being dumped in the river during the many conflicts in the area is not entirly false, but really isnt as importent as some whould make it out to be.

It is true that haveing an abundant food source is key to a Crocs Growth, so If Gustave happened upon an area where bodies where being dumped then yes im sure he would have taken advantage of the situation, as would every other Croc in the area, which poses the question. If so many bodies where being dumped in the river to Produce a “Super Croc” then why arnt there more similar sized Crocs in the area? after all the Area is HUGE and even for a Croc as big as gustave he couldnt possibly eat all of them lol. Secondly according to most of the reports ive read, although bodies where dumped in the river most where buried in mass graves.

But that is all conjecture, the more likely reality of the situation is like I said earlier. A Crocs diet is only limited by what it can Catch. In gustaves Case he is To large to catch and sustain himself on the fish (which is the main source of Food for Crocs in his area) an therefore must go for larger slower prey. So to a hungery Croc like Gustave a slow swimming Human is a quick low risk snack. And i seriously do not think that Humans are his main prey, otherwise the reports would be more in the range of 3000 people killed. After all compared to a nice plump Buffelo humans are just like i said…a nice quick snack.

And for those that where Compareing Gustave to a serial killer, and useing that argument to justify killing him. Well when a Crocodile Kills a human, it isnt because his mother didnt hold him enough, or that because that human believes in a diffrent God then he does, or voted diffrently in the last election. That Crocodile is simply Killing to eat, and eating to survive. Humans on the other hand seem to Kill mainly….because we like too. Each other, other animales…we have spent a large part of our existance inventing new reasons and methods for killing stuff that in no real way has anything to do with nature or survival. But that…is another disscussion.

So to wrap up this long winded post. Gustave is not a monster, his case is interesting, But hes not the biggest Croc, and hes not the only Croc (or animale for that matter) that preys on humans. In fact more people a year are killed by domestic Dogs then Gustave has killed in his long life time. Hes an animale, doing what he does best nothing more, nothing less.

Stay Hungery.

6 03 2010

Abraxis Black, i just read your comment.its really interesting of what you have wrote.its true the gustave might grew larger than normal nile croc due to excessive food supply.i think we should take into account of his age.average nile crocodile is about 60years ( ithink),,so being an old large male,Gustave`s easy prey is human.

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