12 January 2013

Rwanda: Killer Crocodile for Museum Exhibition

In April, last year, a fisherman who had cast his nets went back to Lake Rumira in Bugesera, Eastern province to collect his catch. While there, he was attacked by a 4.85 metres long crocodile which was entangled in the fisherman's net.

Gaspard Gasirabo, the executive secretary of Rilima sector near Gashora where the 1,200 kilogramme reptile was killed, narrates that the fisherman struck it with a machete which just enraged it. It attacked the fisherman and for a few minutes, the man and beast were engaged in a fight for survival, until neighbours mysteriously appeared with axes and killed the reptile.

The tourism and conservation department of Rwanda Development Board then handed over the carcass to the Institute of National Museums of Rwanda (IMNR) in Kigali where, according to Carine Rusaro, a senior staff of IMNR at Natural History Museum, it is undergoing taxidermy and will be ready for exhibition next month.

Taxidermy is an art or operation of preparing, stuffing, and mounting the skins of dead animals for exhibition in a lifelike state. According to a museum staff, during the process, they discovered in the crocodile stomach two human skulls, clothes and a pair of shoes, a clear indication that the animal had swallowed people.

IMNR is charged with, among other duties, exhibiting the natural history of Rwanda in what is commonly known as Kandht House Museum located at Muhima hill in Kigali City. Here, they showcase many animal specimen and replicas of natural wonders of the country.

Now that IMNR has reincarnated the animal via taxidermy, Rusaro says, it will increase the number of visitors who have never seen a crocodile before, whether dead or alive. "It will serve our mandate of educating children and students about the animals and why they should love them," she says.

Apart from this crocodile, IMNR is also working on an elephant carcass which will also be exhibited at Natural History Museum once finished.

The two animals will join a zebra, an antelope, some birds and rodents currently on exhibition at Kandht House.

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