6 Actual Man-Eating Animals
Humans may be the dominant species on Earth, but our greater intellect does not protect us from being preyed upon by larger animals known as man-eaters. Here are a few historical examples.
The Tsavo Man-Eaters
In 1898, two male lions frequently attacked workmen constructing a railroad bridge across the Tsavo River in what is now Kenya. The lions, dubbed the Ghost and the Darkness, were said to have killed up to 140 people and eaten many of them, but historians today estimate the true death toll was closer to 35. Anglo-Irish engineer John Henry Patterson eventually killed the marauding lions and had their pelts turned into rugs.
Tigress of Champawat
Over an eight-year span in the early 1900s, a female tiger allegedly killed over 400 people in Nepal and India. The Champawat Tigress was eventually hunted down by Indian-born British hunter Jim Corbett. Three decades later, Corbett killed a pair of tigers accused of the deaths of more than 60 people in India during a five-year period.
The Central Provinces’ Leopard
Leopards have also been known to assault and murder humans. One of the most infamous occurrences featured the Leopard of the Central Provinces, which killed approximately 150 people (all of them were women and children) in India in the early 1900s in just a few years. It was eventually gunned down.
It is not uncommon for stories about man-eating animals to enter popular culture. For example, American novelist Michael Crichton’s book Jaws was inspired in part by a series of shark attacks in the United States state of New Jersey in July 1916, which killed four people and injured one. Early that month, two men were killed while swimming at local resorts, and a week later, 11-year-old Lester Stillwell and his would-be rescuer, Stanley Fisher, were also killed. The local fisherman went on a shark-killing rampage, killing a seven-foot great white shark suspected of being the man-eater. However, its participation was never officially verified. It is now thought that the assaults were carried out by more than one shark.
Mysore’s Sloth Bear
A sloth bear known as the Sloth Bear of Mysore was claimed to have murdered a dozen people and injured twice as many near Bangalore (now Bengaluru), India, in 1957. Only a few of its victims were eaten. Kenneth Anderson, an Indian-born British hunter, eventually killed a bear in the region. However, it’s uncertain whether this animal was the culprit. It is now considered that all of the attacks were carried out by a single animal.
Since the 1980s, a Nile crocodile named Gustave has terrorised villagers along Burundi’s Ruzizi River and the northern beaches of Lake Tanganyika. It is thought to have killed over 300 people and was the subject of a PBS programme in 2004.