Don’t swim after dark

There were several notable stories last week, ranging from the suspension of four high ranking officers of the RDF, the uproar over SOPA and PIPA in the US and on to the saga of an Italian captain of a cruise ship that foundered upon the rocks of the East coast of Italy.

There were several notable stories last week, ranging from the suspension of four high ranking officers of the RDF, the uproar over SOPA and PIPA in the US and on to the saga of an Italian captain of a cruise ship that foundered upon the rocks of the East coast of Italy.

It would have taken an extremely creative mind to come up with anything close to a script of the recorded dialogue between the Captain and the Italian coast guard. For those that follow the English premiership Manchester (United and City) went to North London (Arsenal and Tottenham) and triumphed once again.

In the meantime Leon Mugesera is still in Canada reverse engineering Pinochet’s playbook in order to stall his inevitable deportation to Rwanda. Dear Sir, justice can be very patient indeed. My favourite story came out of Bugesera though.

Readers may recall that I wrote about the discovery of eleven crocodiles and an alligator in the Belgian town of Damme nearly a month ago. The news this time was not of mistreatment of the reptiles but instead of human fatalities at the jaws of these monsters in the district of Bugesera. The headline in this very paper about Bugesera’s crocodile issues was a story in itself.

It read - ‘Bugesera Mayor downplays crocodile fears’. Now, anyone who has watched any sort of nature show involving crocodiles [the National Geographic channel is highly recommended] will come to the swift conclusion that there is everything to be worried about when a water body has a few of this prehistoric creatures swimming about.

My recent discovery that crocodiles endemic to our part of the world were cuddly toys when compared to the larger and far more aggressive saltwater crocodiles in Australia put an indefinite halt on any contemplated trips to that country. 

Back to Bugesera. The crocodiles appear to be attacking fishermen unaffiliated with any fishing cooperatives who venture into the lakes and rivers of the district at night in rickety water craft. Once upon a time I would have suggested a drive to eliminate every single one of these reptiles but those in the know, claim that crocodiles have their place in the eco-system and that getting rid of them would upset the eco-balance of the area. So they have to stay until their food supply (fish not humans) runs out and they are forced to migrate down river.

Trouble is that the fish numbers may already be dwindling due to over-fishing and this may explain in part [they are carnivores after all] the increased attacks on reckless fishermen. My question was more on what motivated a person to go suicide fishing at night being fully aware that he could very easily become dinner?

It seems to me that the fish stocks in Bugesera are dwindling while the numbers of fishermen are increasing all of which is possibly combined with the increasing population pressure on available arable land.

The Mayor could easily have used his 15 minutes in the press to announce some new initiative to train residents in skills other than fishing to reduce the motivation to risk life and limb on a dark water body with hungry crocodiles below the surface.

The Mayor instead chose to calm his constituents by telling them that the croco-threat was being blown out of proportion. For every fisherman floating about in something smaller than most bathtubs, the Mayor’s reassurances count for nothing each time that there is a loud splash somewhere in the dark lake. 

The people of Bugesera need long-term solutions rather than hollow soothing noises.

okabatende@gmail.com

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