How to kill crocodiles and wildebeests

crocodile“You have the boat as usual. We drive the boat with the bamboo poles. We know those areas where the depth of the water is very low and in the night the crocodile is there. The crocodile knows that the fishes are there. So he goes to that place. And together we are there. We go with a torchlight, a very strong one. We switch it on. We see the reflection of the eyes. It is very easy to see the crocodile this way.

“First, we go with a spear with a hook on it. Then the crocodile is shot at the centre of its head. It is important to make sure that you apply the spear properly because if you shoot the crocodile without securing the spear, it can go away. The spear is tied to a very long rope. Sometimes we go first with the gun. If it is shot well with the gun, it won’t be strong. If it is not shot well, the crocodile becomes very dangerous to the people. It can go to the areas where the women are doing the washing.

The meat is delicious. Very, very good. But is very dangerous to eat the crocodile meat. The crocodile has bile. The bile of the crocodile is so poisonous. The moment you touch it, you die. It is so, so strong. You have to be sure the crocodile was killed well and the bile didn’t contaminate the meat. Maybe you test it first with your dog. [laughter]

“The intention of killing the crocodile is getting the skin. The coating of the crocodile is very demanded. They use that skin to make shoes. There is a market for the crocodile. I learn these things from my father when I was a boy.

wildebeest migration“Together with other boys we go to the bushes to hunt. I killed so many wildebeests with the dogs. And with the spears. The dog now is the gun. The wildebeests get tired. When he stops, that’s advantage we have. The dogs can chase the wildebeests for five kilometres. Just running. We can hear the dogs barking. Normally the wildebeest would never run such a long distance. When it stops, it wants to fight against the dogs. Sometimes it injures the dogs. Sometimes it can come for you.

“Some dogs are very stupid. When it sees the wildebeest, it runs to you. [laughter] But some dogs are very fierce. We know the good dogs. But that was before. Boys growing up now do not learn these things. It is not allowed.” — Fr. Placid

How to Kill a Hippo

Hippopotamus“We used a spear, something made a metal, sharpened. We connected it with a very long rope. Then we go on the boat looking for the hippopotamus. When we find it, we are very close to it and apply the spear. The spear has a hook at one end. When it goes into its body, it won’t get out. Then we start travel ling, using some other spears, controlling the hippo with the long rope. When it tries to go away, we pull the rope so it hurts.

“With so many spears the hippopotamus is getting killed. If it comes near the boat, we have the spears so we strike it. This can be more than one hour. It depends how fast you are. When it starts sinking down in the water, that is very good. Everyone is very happy. You can have two boats. Or one boat depending on its size. In the boat might be five or six people.

At the end of the time you pull it to a convenient place where you can slaughter it and get the meat. We have other knives that we use. We normally take everything. We kill it in the heart areas and the neck. We go to the place where the depth of the water is low.

“One side of the river is where the water is high, the other side it is low. We push the hippopotamus alongside the riverbank. We start slaughtering there in the water. Cutting off the legs and all these things. In those days when I was boy the government did not care about the killings of these animals. No permission was needed. So there was always a supply of meat. We just decide. But the killing of the hippopotamus is so dangerous we did it only once or twice a year. Some of the people, they were wounded.

“Nowadays it is not allowed. Last week, at Luhombero, a man was caught with some meat—an elephant or a buffalo—and he was sent to jail. The leader of the village caught the man and he was sent to jail for fifteen years. He didn’t kill the animal. He bought the meat from somewhere. If he had the money to pay the authorities, he would not go to jail. The fine is something like twelve thousand dollars. Nobody would ever have that amount. But still animals are reduced in numbers because there is a great deal of poaching.” — Fr. Placid