Once upon a time, a village in Uganda never had peace due to the presence of the world’s most prolific man-eater. ‘Osama the crocodile’, lived in Lake Victoria and never spared any human it comes across.
Measuring 16ft from snout to tail, and weighing one ton, Osama allegedly devoured humans and maimed several others.
The crocodile, believed to be over 75 years back then, reportedly ate a father-of-two Bosco Nyansi, a local fisherman whose tattered clothing was discovered floating on the water. Osama is reported to have feasted on over 80 victims from Luganga village in Uganda.
Since 1991, Osama attacked both the young and old, eating his way through a tenth of the village population. The people of Luganga Village once called the crocodile ‘John Major’ because of his size and his namesake’s global prominence at that time.
But following his reign of terror and the al-Qa’eda attacks on American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, he was re-christened Osama. He would carry children away from the shore as they filled buckets with water. He would often swim beneath fishing boats and capsize them.
According to reports, Osama began to exhibit a highly unusual behaviour for a crocodile. He would jump into the wooden vessels before carrying off victims. Paul Kyewalyanga was rowing in the back of his boat while his brother Peter fished from the prow when Osama came aboard.
“He just emerged from the water vertically and flopped into the boat,” Kyewalyanga told The Telegraph. “The back of the boat where I was sitting was submerged.” As Paul called frantically for help, the crocodile latched on to Peter’s leg and began to pull.
“Peter was clutching the side screaming,” he said. “They fought for about five minutes until I heard a tearing sound. Peter shouted, ‘He’s broken my leg.’ Then he let go and was dragged into the lake. A few days later we found his head and his arm.”
Osama’s terror gripped the village. Children were forbidden from the shore. However, the livelihood of the community depended largely on fishing. While some avoided the lake, others were unperturbed. “All we could do was pray,” 64-year-old villager, John Mangene said. “We did a lot of that. I would wake up in the middle of the night and get down on my knees.”
Only 15 people have felt Osama’s teeth and lived to tell the tale. Many families who have lost dear ones in the hands of Osama longed for the day this terror would be captured.
Finally, Osama’s days of hunting humans in Africa’s largest lake came to an end in 2005 when it was trapped by officials using meat on a hook and transported out of the village on a truck. It was a huge sigh of relief for the villagers.
Osama was captured by 50 local men and wildlife officials after a stakeout in southern Uganda lasting seven days and seven nights. Osama is now the property of Uganda Crocs Ltd, purveyors of fine crocodile-skin handbags destined for the followers of fashion in Italy and South Korea.
Authorities say Osama will be used for breeding stock and will now spend his remaining days giving birth to handbags.
Alex Mutamba, the proprietor of Uganda Crocs, with nearly 5,000 animals in his care, who accepted the country’s wildlife authority’s request to a home for Osama said: “All Nile crocodiles like Osama will eat a human being if they perceive their territory is being encroached on.”
Uganda is famous for its man-eating reptiles. In the 1970s, Idi Amin, the former dictator, reportedly threw 4,000 disabled people into the crocodile-infested headwaters of the Nile of which Osama is believed to have been a benefactor of that cruel act.