“Wanted, Fat Babies”

I found this posted on Twitter by VictorianScot, though he only had the headline and the first sentence. I found an image of the whole article. It's a brief summary of the methods of English crocodile hunters in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) from the July 10, 1897 issue of The London Journal, and it opens in the greatest way ever:

Wanted–Fat babies for crocodile bait. Will be brought home alive."

I'll post the image below, and if you can't read it, I'll also type out the text.

Fat Babies

"When I first saw this advertisement in a Ceylon newspaper I thought it was a joke. Afterwards I learned that it was by this means that the crocodile hunters secured their bait. It is no trouble for an English crocodile hunter to get these little children. The Ceylon parents have full confidence in Englishmen, and they will let out their babies to be used for crocodile bait for a small sum.

"The Ceylon crocodiles are lazier than any other, and harder to get. They lie for hours perfectly motionless, basking in the sun. Hardly anything can stir them. But when tempted by a fat Ceylon baby placed on the banks of the stream they shake off their ennui, and their mouths water for a delicate morsel of brown baby. The crocodile gathers himself together and starts for the infant. When he gets about half-way up the bank the hunter, concealed behind some reeds, opens fire and gets his game. Then the baby is taken home to its loving parents, to be used for the same purpose next day.

"The sportsman secures the skin and the head of the crocodile, and the natives are given the rest of the carcass."

Okay, first of all, wow.

Secondly, you can tell so much about race relations in this article. Yes, they trust Englishmen implicitly with their infants–they're happy to do it! There is no pressure or force put on the native parents, I promise! Also, the crocodiles only like BROWN baby. We would never think about using white children as bait . . . but it's only because the crocodile likes dark meat, we swear! And the kid is totally safe at all times. Never mind that crocodiles can both swim and run very quickly and probably were able to snatch a child or two before the hunter shot them. And if the crocodile IS shot immediately by the hunter, it's fine! There are only bullets whizzing by your child. All Englishmen are perfect marksmen, don't you natives know that?

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