3 reasons why a lion would eat you

As you may know by now, Ghosts of Tsavo is based very loosely on historic events. In 1898, two lions took it upon themselves to devour a number of men. You can imagine how upsetting it was for those men. After all, they came to East Africa to build the railway, not to be eaten by the wildlife.

These ravenous lions with a taste for human meat were stopped only when a British soldier, Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson, shot and killed the deadly pair near Kenya’s Tsavo River. More than a hundred years later, a chemical analysis of the lions’ hides suggested that they ate about 35 people.

Now I’m going to share with you the science behind the facts. Just to set the record straight: most lions don’t eat people. In fact, the King of the Jungle is actually a lazy cat who would rather spend up to 20 hours a day lounging around under the shade of a thorn tree. However, the two man eaters of Tsavo had different ideas. But why?

A recent study analyzed the grooves on the lions’ fangs. The conclusion: these lions preferred hunting live humans because human meat is softer than the alternatives.

One of the lions (the one with a particular preference for soft food) was missing several teeth and had a severe tooth abscess. Ouch.This would have made it too painful for the Tsavo lion to subdue typical prey, hence the change in menu. No more zebra; humans are way easier!

Of course, it wasn’t just dental issues that pushed the lions to a new food source. There was also a lack of natural prey due to a cattle plague combined with a drought. With the building of the railway, an influx of new food filled in the gap: soft-fleshed humans.

The moral of this story is simple: stay indoors when there are hungry lions about. And while you’re stuck inside waiting for the lions to eat someone else, maybe you want to catch up on your reading!

Well, that’s it from me. I’m now going to venture outside. Let’s just hope the lions have wandered away into the neighboring forest…


Vered “Hiding from Lions” Ehsani

PS: Speaking of neighboring forests, you can find a few pics of my home over here: https://veredehsani.co.za/out-of-africa/

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