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In 1898, two lions attacked dozens of people before Lt. Col. Patterson killed the cats. (The Field Museum, #Z93658)

Man-Eaters of Tsavo

They are perhaps the world’s most notorious wild lions. Their ancestors were vilified more than 100 years ago as the man-eaters of Tsavo

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(Continued from page 1)

When I arrived in Nairobi, word reached the capital that a lion had just killed a woman at Tsavo. A cattle herder had been devoured weeks earlier. “That’s not unusual at Tsavo,” Kasiki said.

Still, today’s Tsavo lions are not innately more bloodthirsty than other lions, Patterson says; they attack people for the same reason their forebears did a century ago: “our encroachment into what was once the territory of lions.” Injured lions are especially dangerous. One of the original man-eaters had severe dental disease that would have made him a poor hunter, Patterson found. Such lions may learn to attack people rather than game, he says, “because we are slower, weaker and more defenseless.”

Paul Raffaele’s book Among the Great Apes will be published in February.

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