Demeteriya Nabire died four months ago, fetching water from the lake near her home in Uganda. She was with several other women from her village at the water’s edge of Lake Kyoga when a crocodile surfaced, grabbed her with its jaws and dragged her away. She was never seen or heard from again.
“The crocodile ate my wife entirely,” said her husband, Mubarak Batambuze, a 50-year-old fisherman. “Nothing was ever seen of her again – no clothes, no part of her body that I could identify. I just didn’t know what to do – a mother and her unborn child. It was the end of my world. I was completely lost.”
Batambuze soon found an opportunity for revenge last month when the crocodile, estimated to be 20 feet long and weigh more than 1300 pounds, was again spotted nearby.
“Somebody called me and said, ‘Mubarak, I have news for you – the crocodile that took your wife is here – we are looking at it now,'” Batambuze told the BBC.
He took some friends down to the lake in an attempt to fight the beast with sticks and stones. When that approach failed, Batambuze visited a local blacksmith and asked him to make “a spear that could kill the crocodile dead,” specially designed with a sharp barb on one side.
Batambuze’s friends pleaded for him not to confront the enormous crocodile like this, warning him that it was “so huge it may eat you.”
“I failed killing it the first time around,” he said in response. “I’m not bothered if I die killing this beast. I’m going to take it on with this spear, and I will make sure that it dies.”
He tied a rope into the spear so that, once the spear was embedded in the croc, he could pull back to make sure the barb cut into more of the animal’s flesh.
Batambuze describes the encounter in his own words:
I put the spear into the crocodile’s side, and while my friends were helping to throw stones at the beast’s back, it tried getting its mouth up to attack me again… It turned violent, and then there was so much fear in the place. But I was so determined, and I wasn’t afraid of dying. I just wanted it dead, so I put the spear in its side and I pulled the rope. That got the crocodile into trouble.
It took an hour and a half of fighting before the crocodile was finally dead. The men dragged it back into the village for everyone to see, hailing them as heroes. The dead animal was taken to a vet and examined. Though examiners found a tibia bone, it’s unlikely any of his wife’s bones could have survived inside the animal for so long.
“Within myself I’m a very depressed man because I lost a wife and an unborn child,” Batambuze said. “But the locals keep on saying, ‘Thank you for killing the beast, that’s where we fetch water and we’re sure it would have taken somebody else. Thank you so much, you did a great job.’ So I’m a local hero – people keep on thanking me.”