Chic African Culture Africa Factbook

Man Eating Lions Stalked Human Prey for Nine Months

List of Known Victims Killed by the Insatiable African Tsavo Man-Eating Lions and How They Died. 

Tent Lieutenant Ungan Singh was clasped by the throat and dragged off to be eaten by the lion.
Tent Lieutenant Ungan Singh was clasped by the throat and dragged off to be eaten by the lion.

Intelligent African man-eating lions stopped at nothing and stalked human prey with the precision of a military operation. Tsavo devil lions killed and ate upwards of 135 railroad workers from March - December, 1898. These clever African man-eating lions stalked, terrorized and killed Indian and African railroad workers for nine months in British East Africa. 

From March - December 1898, in an eight mile radius, the lions stopped at nothing and in fact stalked human prey with the precision of a military operation. The railway workers believed the lions were not animals, but devils in lions' shape and lived a charmed life.

The first written account of African man-eating lions was written in The Field newspaper in the year 1899 written by Lieutenant Colonel John Henry Patterson, an engineer hired to construct the Kenyan Ugandan railroad. Workers were dragged from their tents which were surrounded by thick thorn fences, dragged off scaffolding, dragged from trees and eaten alive by two intelligent man-eating lions.

Despite having armed guards, the police and snipers from the military sitting in trees all night long in the pitch dark to track the whereabouts of the man-eating lions, the attacks did not stop. The lions always seemed capable of avoiding the snipers, while successfully stalking and killing numerous victims.

Insatiable African Tsavo Man-Eating Lions
The Insatiable African Tsavo Man-Eating Lions

Known Victims Killed by the Tsavo Man-Eating Lions as Witnessed by Civil Engineer Lieutenant Colonel John Henry Patterson.

1. After the railway crew settled in for the night, a lion suddenly put its head in at the opening of the tent door and snatched Lieutenant Ungan Singh who happened to be nearest the opening, he was clasped by the throat and dragged off to be eaten.

2. On the same night as Singh’s death, a half mile away at the Railhead Camp, another worker sleeping in his tent was kidnapped and killed by the man-eating lions.

3. Two unknown railroad workers carried off from the Railhead Camp.

4. Two known men from the Engomani Camp, one of whom was killed and eaten, and the other so badly mauled that he died within a few days.

5. Unknown worker found in the river bed mauled and half eaten.

6. Unknown railway station worker was carried off screaming into the night, nothing was found except his skull with two large puncture wounds.

7. Two wounded and one person killed in the lion attack. The unknown Asian hospital patient was seized and dragged off by the lion through the thorn fence that surrounded the hospital tent.

8. Around a large campfire surrounded by railroad workers and hospital staff, the lion stuck his head in the tent and seized the hospital water carrier by the foot and pulled him out. Within the sight of dozens of witnesses the lion then tore into his throat and gave a few vicious shakes, seized him in his mouth and dragged him away.

9. Even after warning cries of “Beware, brothers, the devil is coming”, two unknown workers were dragged off by a lion through a thick thorn fence in two different camps and were gobbled-up by two lions within thirty yards of the tent where they had been taken.

10. Captain Haslem assisted in trying to track the lion that kidnapped and killed lieutenant Ungan Singh, part of his skin was licked off and his flesh eaten..

11. Two unknown Swahili porters, one killed immediately and the other was found alive stuck in the thorn bush fence through which the lion had apparently been unable to drag him, he died soon after.

12. Unknown railroad worker was taken and eaten close to the Permanent Way Inspector's iron hut, the legs, one arm and half the body had been eaten by the time he was found. After this the railway work stopped; and for the next three weeks lion-proof huts were built for the workers who remained.

13. Abdullah, a police sergeant in the army of the European colony and deputy to Mr. Whitehead, the District Officer was seen by many people being dragged off by the lion, shots were fired but this did not stop the lion from getting away with his prey.

The lions were two man-eating male lions responsible for around 18 - 135 deaths of railroad construction workers in British East Africa from March - December 1898, the exact number is unknown. The first lion was killed on December 9, 1898, the second one on December 27, 1898 by a group of armed railroad workers assisting Lieutenant Colonel John Henry Patterson John Henry Patterson who was tired of living in the constant fear of death and danger and took matters into their own hands to set up traps to kill the man-eating lions.

The taxidermied bodies of the Tsavo man-eating lions are on display at the Field Museum in the Rice Gallery in Chicago
First lion killed on December 9, 1898

Poison and fire did not kill the lions but Carbine and Martini single shot lead bullets in the chest and head finished the lions for good. The taxidermied bodies of the Tsavo man-eating lions are on display at the Field Museum in the Rice Gallery Located on Chicago’s Lake Michigan in the USA.

The 26th President of the United States of America, President Theodore Roosevelt had a few words to say about the man eating lions after a lengthy conversation with the British professional hunter Frederick Courteney Selous. Roosevelt said "I think that the incident of the Uganda man-eating lions, described in those two articles you sent me, is the most remarkable account of which we have any record."

Prime Minister Robert Gascoyne-Cecil Marquis of Salisbury who in apologizing for the delay in the construction of the Uganda Railway said, "The whole of the works were put to a stop be- cause a pair of man-eating lions appeared in the locality and conceived a most unfortunate taste for our workmen. At last the laborer's entirely declined to carry on unless they were guarded by iron entrenchments. Of course it is difficult to work a railway under these conditions and until we found an enthusiastic sports- man to get rid of these lions our enterprise was seriously hindered."

It is said the names of the man eating lions were Ghost and Darkness but in his book The Man-Eaters of Tsavo, and Other East African Adventures, Lieutenant Colonel John Henry Patterson only refers to them as the devils.

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