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Remember the Two Man-Eating Lions that Killed 135 Railway Workers in Kenya?

Remember the Two Man-Eating Lions that Killed 135 Railway Workers in Kenya?

Photo used for illustrative purpose

There have been reports of Lions killing people, but the killings are known to happen in different areas around the world. However, in the southern Kenyan region of Tsavo there was an account of two lions killing about 135 people. The number of kills were initially pegged at 28 by Patterson in his first book about the incident because the number was based mainly on the workers that were killed, but in the second edition of the book he raised the number of deaths to 135. This was because he later included the local residents who also got killed by the Lions.

Photo of a Railway track in Tsavo

This particular incident happened in 1898, and the killings lasted for 9 months. It was recorded that the lions started their attack in march when the British were building a railway bridge through the Tsavo river. The lions were Maneless, and they carried out their attack on the workers by creeping into their tents at night and pulling their victims into the fields where they devour them. Some victims were eaten while some were killed.

It was later discovered that the reason why the Lions were constantly attacking the workers was because there was a virus called rinderpest which was responsible for the death of many animals in the Tsavo forests, especially animals that would have normally served as a prey to these Lions. Researchers then concluded that this could have been what made the Lions devise a new method of feeding which involved the eating of man so that they could survive. The incessant killings by the lions led to the workers building a fence around the camp area where they slept, this fences also had thorns on top of them. This however didn’t stop the Lions as they were able to find a way through the fence and carry out their deadly act. It was recorded that when the attacks initially started, the Lions came one at a time, but they later became very confident and started coming together.

However, a British Colonel known as John Patterson, was worried about the happenings, so he tried to trap and kill these two Lions who had been terrorizing the workers. He set up traps for them on various occasions, and was finally able to kill them in December. He killed the second Lion 20 days after he killed the first one. Patterson also recorded that the first Lion was shot twice by Patterson, and the second Lion nine times.

Body of one of the Maneless Lions displayed after it was killed by Patterson.

There was a movie made about the two Lions which was called “The Ghost and the Darkness”.

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Kenya Kenyan Lions Patterson Tsavo


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