The Monster Crocodile of Pointe-Noire - Analysis
These images appear to be authentic and correspond to a French-language news story that appeared in the Congolese weekly magazine La Semaine Africaine on July 17, 2003.
Here is a synopsis of that story, which partially confirms the information given in the email:
The creature was first reported swimming in the port of Pointe-Noire, Republic of the Congo on the night of July 5, 2003. Later, around one o'clock in the morning, it was spotted creeping up onto the beach by onlookers who phoned the police, apparently frightening the beast back into the water in the process. It returned to shore a couple of hours later only to be greeted by a fusillade of bullets from an array of weapons including a Kalachnikov assault rifle. Even so, it took nearly an hour to fell the beast, during which time the neighborhood sounded like a war zone, according to residents. A crowd of bystanders equipped with axes and knives began to approach the carcass with visions of crocodile steaks in their heads, but Mayor Roland Bouiti-Viaudo interfered, declaring it necessary to preserve the monster in the name of science and tourism. It was eventually forklifted into a container and, at last report, was bound not for the freezer of a local hotel, but for a taxidermist.
Contrary to what is reported in the email, the news story says the croc measured 5 meters (equivalent to 16 feet) long and weighed 850 kilos (1,874 lbs., less than half of what the email claims), and identifies its species as Crocodylus niloticus (Nile crocodile), native to fresh-water rivers, lakes and swamps - which would explain why it was so eager to quit the ocean for dry land even though it was confronted by unfriendly humans. It was estimated to be approximately 50 years old.
Because they were snapped with a digital camera, it was possible to retrieve the source data on the first image in the series, according to which it was taken on July 6, 2003 at 12:35 p.m.
Update: The same images were recirculated in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina in a forwarded message claiming the gigantic crocodile was found in the flooded streets of New Orleans. Read more...
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Sources and further reading:
Five-Meter-Long Crocodile Cut Down Downtown
La Semaine Africaine, 17 July 2003
Crocodilian Species: Nile Crocodile
Crocodilians Natural History and Conservation Web site
Last updated: 03/22/05