Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Man-Eaters Visit Nairobi

The follwoing story is from npr.org

The best thing that people have going for them in the wild is that they don't taste very good.
That is, except in times of duress, says David Maschal. Maschal takes care of the lions at the Nairobi National Park Animal Orphanage.

"It is only extreme hunger and extreme circumstances that promote man-eating," he says. "Once a lion has done it a few times and realizes it can subsist — then, where [there] are not other options, why not continue?"

Two of the world most famous man-eaters will make their way to Nairobi, from their home at Chicago's Field Museum, in 2010 to illustrate this concept. Although they are now dead and stuffed, the lions are said to have eaten dozens of Indian rail workers and an untold number of African slaves over 100 years ago in Tsavo, Kenya.

The animals struck with impunity, walking straight into the workers' tents and dragging them out for dinner. They are said to have eaten leisurely, leaving men to hear the sound of their friends' bones breaking and their flesh sucked dry. The workers built thorn bush fences around their camp sites, but the lions found ways to get through.

Many theories abound about just what drove the lions to this unusual behavior. Some say it was partly that the railworkers had depleted the animals' natural food supply and partly that these were some very unusual creatures. Some say these type of lions have unusually high levels of testosterone, that they were following the instincts of their mother, or that their teeth weren't strong enough to eat other animals.

"Some research which has been done in Tsavo does suggest that Tsavo lions may have much higher levels of testosterone than lions elsewhere," says Samuel Kasiki, a scientist with the Kenya Wildlife Service who has extensively studied Tsavo lion behavior.

The man-eating lions of Tsavo may have also been in need of a good dentist.
"The reason they were eating people is because they had bad teeth. And if you have a bad tooth you are not able to kill strong and fast moving prey — so human beings happened, probably, to be slower prey, which they preferred," says Kasiki.

Hunting is now illegal in Kenya, but tensions between humans and beasts still run high. An estimated 3,000 lions are in the country, but that number is apparently dropping as humans move deeper and deeper into lion territory.

Perhaps the greater lesson of stories like, "The Man Eating Lions of Tsavo," is that when two or more species compete for the same resources neither comes away unscathed.

To hear an audio report on this story follow this link:

I found a book that tells about this event:

The Man-Eaters of Tsavo and Other East African Adventures (Paperback)by John Henry Patterson (Author)

Editorial Reviews
Book DescriptionPresident Theodore Roosevelt once wrote, "I think that the incident of the Uganda man-eating lions, is the most remarkable account of which we have any record. It is a great pity that it should not be preserved in permanent form." Now this timeless original account by Col. John Henry Patterson has been which was preserved over time is republished in this paperback edition. This is an excellent historical account of the African journey of Col. Patterson and his first-person account of interactions with man-eating lions, natives and other interesting stories.

To find more informaiton about the book and to order it follow this link: Man-Eaters

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> posted by Trevor Hammack @ 1:22 PM   0 comments links to this post


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