The Man-Eaters of Tsavo

The Tsavo Lions or the Ghost and Darkness, were two male African Lions that famously went on a killing rampage along the railway line between Mombasa and Nairobi in Kenya.

Some believe that a lack of prey caused their unusual behavior due to drought or competition from other predators in the area.

Why The Lions Became Man-Eaters

Others suggest that they may have already been accustomed to attacking humans after scavenging for corpses during war times.

Why The Lions Became Man-Eaters

Some even believe that disease caused neurological damage that led them to become more aggressive than usual towards humans rather than animals.

Why The Lions Became Man-Eaters

The Tsavo lions were two large adult male felines who inhabited the Tsavo region of southeastern Kenya in 1898. These lions had lived in relative peace with people for years, and sightings of them were usually limited to those close to water sources. They were seen as highly elusive.

History & Origin of the Lions

In late 1898, railway construction began near Tsavo River. This quickly drew the attention of these two male felines, who saw it as a threat to their territory and started attacking human workers while sleeping outside in unprotected campsites at night.

Timeline of Events

In March 1899, railway officials received reports that these two lions had killed over 28 people, and by October 1899, this number had risen to 135 deaths attributed mainly to them.

Timeline of Events

In December 1899, after months of failed attempts by locals at killing them both separately and together, Col. John Henry Patterson took up the task of ridding the area of these man-eaters with great success.

Timeline of Events

After several unsuccessful attempts to kill them using traps, Patterson, on Dec 29th, eventually tracked and shot both lions after almost three months of hunting them down. He describes coming face-to-face with one of the lions as it charged toward him. Thus the reign of terror ended.

Timeline of Events

John William Yonge was attached while walking along Machakos Road in Kenya. He recalls seeing the lion behind him before it grabbed him by the shoulder. Yonge managed to escape with only minor injuries thanks to a nearby tree branch that he clung onto until help came.

A survivor's tale

The story of the man-eaters caught global attention. People began recognizing how human activities like poaching and habitat destruction endangered already vulnerable species.

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