Mystery Surrounds Ancient Nile Crocodile That’s Rumored To Have Eaten Over 300 People

by Shelby Scott
(Photo by: Philippe Clément/Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

A crocodile known as Gustave captured social media’s attention—not for the first time—after rumors reignited that it’s eaten 300+ people. More on the strange mystery below.

The Daily Mail reports that the large Nile crocodile measures a massive 20 feet in length. It also, supposedly, weighs a full ton. Since 1987, the scaley beast has terrorized people in settlements near Lake Tanganyika in Burundi, Africa. Locals state the creature has reportedly eaten fishermen and bathers. Truthfully, stats about the crocodile’s kills are murky. Still, some accounts from the region suggest as many as several dozen people have been killed by the croc.

According to the news outlet, Gustave isn’t only legendary for his size and reputation. He’s also pretty ancient. Some scientists estimate Gustave to be 100 years old. Others, however, argue he’s several decades younger. Scientists have referenced the crocodile’s dental arch as proof, which approximately tells us he is 60 years old. That said, National Geographic estimated the killer crocodile to be about 60 years old in 2009. That would make him 77 now.

The Croc’s Kills Date Back Decades

No matter his age, though, it’s likely his talent as a ruthless predator has enabled him to live this long. Mary Anne Potts, a writer for National Geographic wrote more than a decade ago, “Gustave is most definitely a real beast and a confirmed killer. Records of his attacks on villagers living on the northeastern shores of Lake Tanganyika date back to 1987.”

Even so, despite that the crocodile is a “confirmed killer,” Potts argued that it’s highly unlikely a single creature could claim the lives of so many. Sadly, efforts to capture the beast on camera have entirely failed. Even scarier, people’s efforts to kill him have failed, with the crocodile reportedly boasting a bullet wound on its head.

Some locals reported observing the massive croc in 2015, last seen hauling off an antelope as a meal. Others said the animal was reportedly killed in 2019, though experts have not recorded any physical proof or collected any remains supporting those claims.

Gustave the Killer Crocodile Even Inspired a Documentary

Much like Bigfoot, the Yeti, and the Loch Ness Monster, Gustave the killer crocodile has even inspired a documentary. According to the news outlet, the documentary, entitled Capturing the Killer Croc, debuted in 2004.

Essentially, it saw a team of scientists set out on a mission in Africa to try and safely capture and relocate the 20-foot beast. However, they were left disappointed and empty-handed after multiple failed attempts.

In the documentary, the scientists rigged up an elaborate trap, topped off with life bait (a chicken followed by a goat) to try and catch the crocodile. The team then trained an infrared camera on the trap to try and see the croc in action before, theoretically, trapping and relocating it. In the end, a storm ruined their final attempt.

When the team returned to the scene of the trap, a major storm had completely wrecked the cage, leaving it submerged in high water. The goat was nowhere to be missing. The worst part? Even their camera had been washed away. So the scientists truly had no idea what happened at the time and whether Gustave the crocodile had even paid a visit to their trap.