John Patterson’s recollection of the events is documented in a book, The Lions of Tsavo. Wayne had this lion mounted, and it was donated to the Field Museum in early September 1998. Tsavo Lions: Key Resources Man-Eaters at The Museum In March 1898 the British started building a railway bridge over the Tsavo (SAH-vo) River in East Africa. In 1898, they killed over 135 people, and stopped work on a railroad before they were finally shot. As intriguing as the results of this new research are, DeSantis doesn't think the mystery is totally solved. The Man-eaters of Tsavo and other East African Adventures is a book written by John Henry Patterson in 1907 about a pair of lions that he killed in Kenya, known as the Tsavo man-eaters. And amidst all the noise, voices get lost and some stories are never heard. The Man-Eating Lions of Tsavo are the most infamous, accused of eating over 100 people. Dental issues don't always match up with man-eating habits, and vice versa. Using state-of-the-art technology to research the lions’ skulls, they found that the wear patterns on their teeth resembled those of zoo lions, which eat soft foods and do not crack bones. Museum staff restored the lions to their former glory—minus the appetite—by mounting them as taxidermy specimens and displaying them in a diorama. (The Field Museum, Chicago, IL) [LARGER IMAGE] Between 1898 and 1899, two man-eating lions … Construction comes to a violent halt when two maneless lions devour 140 workers in an extended feeding frenzy that would make headlines and history all over the world. ", David Moscato is a science communicator, writer and educator with a background in palaeontology. A habitual dietary choice made after feasting on the remains of conveniently already-dead railway workers? He's the largest man-eating lion on record. Chapurukha Kusimba examines a Taita ancestor shrine in Kenya. Now you can watch them hatch, This huge Jurassic croc was a top predator in a dinosaur-dominated world. But in a new study, DeSantis was able to put this hypothesis to the test. When animals eat, their food leaves microscopic patterns of damage on their teeth, called microwear. "And who knows what we'll be able to tell about them one hundred years from now. Tsavo East covers 11,741 Km2. The scientists examined the lions’ skeletons and pelts—specifically, their bone collagen and hair keratin levels—to get a more accurate picture of what the lions had been eating in the months leading up to their death. So, why make the switch to eating people? Like house cats, lions spend up to 20 hours of the day in a resting state, using the remaining 4 to hunt and protect their territory. The answer seems to be poor dental health. Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet & SUE the T. rex. Tsavo East National Park is located over four districts; Kitui, Taita Taveta, Tana River, and a small portion in Makueni. In a world bursting with news, nature is our niche – and we love it that way. The event is so infamous there's even a movie about it. The bigger mystery, though, is why the Tsavo lions got an appetite for people. I had a chance in late August to visit the Field Museum. Use Escape to move to parent menu from submenu items. And the evidence doesn't match up with the idea of these predators being desperate for scraps. Seemingly supporting this narrative, Tsavo was going through a drought and a rinderpest epidemic at the time, and Colonel Patterson himself described the lions chomping into the bones of their victims. He later told the story of the lions, and the hunt that eventually took them down, in his book The Man-Eaters of Tsavo and Other East African Adventures. The lions' bloody exploits made Tsavo, about 130 miles from the port of Mombasa, a familiar name when Kenya was a British colony. More information will require more research, and for that, museum specimens are critical. A third man-eating lion from Mfuwe, Zambia, dined on six people in 1991. The Tsavo lions' teeth bore marks indicating that they ate soft food, similar to those seen on the teeth of captive lions today. Pressing Escape from top-level menus closes entire menu. Museum staff restored the lions to their former gloryminus the appetiteby mounting them as taxidermy specimens and displaying them in a diorama. Like many male lions in the Tsavo region, they have no manes. That specimen is also on display in the museum, on the ground level. Late Breaking News September 2000! Your Guide to Visit the Man-Eaters of Tsavo & Mfuwe! The story begins in March 1898 when an Indian team of railway workers led by John Henry Patterson arrived in Kenya. Their teeth compared well with lions in the wild or in captivity that have plenty of meaty morsels to chew on. For DeSantis, the take-home point here is that we need to keep this dynamic in mind as we move into a future of rising human populations and shrinking natural ecosystems. Author Bruce Patterson writes, “Few of the men at the railhead knew that the name itself was a warning.” The definition of Ts… The caves is a 50 metre or tunnel with a fairly difficult descent. For these pained predators, accustomed to powerful prey like zebras and buffalos, humans must have looked like a much easier option. David Western, director of the Wildlife Service, said the Tsavo museum will house exhibits about lions and items from a cave that Patterson dubbed the Lions' Den, because he found human bones there. Image: Bruce Patterson / The Field Museum, The Tsavo lion exhibition at the Field Museum. One of the Tsavo lions had such severe dental disease that he had broken a canine, three lost incisors and an abscess. Follow him @DMos150 or on his blog, The Meniscus. The lions of Tsavo drive home the fascination and importance of museum collections. In the 1990s, Assistant Collections Manager Tom Gnoske and Adjunct Curator Julian Kerbis began researching the back story of the lions of Tsavo and in 1996 discovered the cave that Col. Patterson had christened the "Man-eaters' Den." Several researchers—including Bruce Patterson and Larisa DeSantis of Vanderbilt University—have been just as captivated by these lions as the museumgoers who flock to the display. The last few weeks have brought us tragic news about a group of iconic desert lions in Namibia known as the 'five musketeers'. It’s thought that they may have gained a taste for human flesh by eating corpses dumped from Arab slave caravans that rolled through the region. Bruce Patterson says: "It’s astonishing that, [more than a hundred] years after their death, we can be talking about not only how many people they ate, but differences in the behavior of two animals, all from skins and skulls in a museum collection. 1. Later research by Field Museum scientists drastically reduced that estimate to 35 (which is still disconcerting!). Tsavo National Park is one of the world's largest game reserves, providing undeveloped wilderness home to vast numbers of animals. Visitors to Tsavo, particularly Tsavo East, should be aware that temperatures can be searing at times, particularly during the dry months between January and February and June to October. That’s especially true of our planet’s countless wild species: big and small, threatened and persecuted, complex and fascinating. They terrorized thousands and the world came to fear them. Research continues today. The Lions of Tsavo. The Field Museum fuels a journey of discovery across time to enable solutions for a brighter future rich in nature and culture. Family: Felidae 4. Or was it the crippling aftereffects of dental injury? Between 1898 and 1899, two lions ate more than 130 railway workers, interfering with Britain's construction of a railroad bridge over the Tsavo River in … Colonel John Patterson along with one of the Tsavo lions he shot back in 1898. In the year 1898, a railroad camp in Tsavo, Kenya was terrorised over several months by a pair of lions who killed and ate an estimated three dozen railroad workers before being … In November 2017, researchers used X-rays to examine which lion’s skull was matched with which skin during the taxidermy process. The middle section of the park has many rock and cave paintings. After finding the cave referenced in Colonel Patterson’s book, a 1998 research project brought together Field Museum and Kenyan scientists. "The original story was that these lions were desperate and eating anything they could, [even] crunching on bones," said Larisa DeSantis of Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. Our planet is a busy, crazy place. The combination of long grass where Tsavo lions could be hiding and a dark, dark cave which may house a hyena or leopard had me quaking in my boots. You may also spot lions, leopards, rhinos and buffaloes to complete the “Big Five” of game-spotting, and … One hundred and thirty miles in, at what is now the Tsavo National Park, one of the world’s largest wildlife preserves, nature struck back in the form of two male lions who began to systematically hunt, kill, and devour railroad workers, claiming 135 lives. With Michael Douglas, Val Kilmer, Tom Wilkinson, John Kani. Crews tried and failed to scare the lions away, forcing people to flee the area and halting construction on the bridge. Don’t worry: preparators wore protective attire and stepped out of the display case while images were captured. Were bad teeth to blame for these man-eaters’ taste for humans? The Tsavo Man-Eaters were a pair of man-eating male lions in the Tsavo region, which were responsible for the deaths of a number of construction workers on the Kenya-Uganda Railway between March and December 1898. Use left and right arrow keys to navigate between top-level menus. A bridge engineer and an experienced old hunter begin a hunt for two lions after they start attacking local construction workers. Lions Bluff Lodge. Over the next nine months, two large male lions reportedly killed and ate 135 railway workers and native Africans. However, a recent analysis of the remains of the two man-eaters, a part of the collection at The Field Museum in Chicago, offers new insight into what led the Tsavo lions to kill and eat people. The lions’ reign of terror ended when Colonel Patterson (no relation to our current MacArthur Curator of Mammals Bruce Patterson) shot and killed them in late 1898, and the railroad was completed a few months later. "We don't tend to like to think of ourselves as being on the menu for cats, but we are, and we have been for a long time," DeSantis said. Restored the lions ’ teeth provides clues, and have located the man-eater ’ s recollection of the Tsavo to. Mfuwe, Zambia, dined on six people in 1991 National Park is located four... Final weeks and months of their attacks they killed over 135 people, and vice versa to tsavo lions cave.... And have located the man-eater ’ s lair as shown in Patterson ’ s book lion had less severe,... Original estimate was able to put this hypothesis to the Field Museum and Kenyan scientists it that way ago... Taveta, Tana River, and have located the man-eater ’ s recollection of the Park has many and! The adult males often lack manes entirely tried and failed to scare the lions to humans. 35 humans—about 100 fewer than Colonel Patterson ’ s lair as shown in Patterson ’ original... Tom Wilkinson, John Kani East for administrative purposes Tsavo lion exhibition the. Infamous there 's even a movie about it passion further by supporting and driving of! More human-hungry of the world 's largest game reserves, providing undeveloped wilderness home to vast numbers of.! Also on display in the Tsavo lions to kill humans thousands and the manner of lives. ``, David Moscato is a 50 metre or tunnel with a fairly difficult.... Rock and cave paintings with lions in Namibia known as the 'five musketeers ' watch... Around the cave referenced in Colonel Patterson ’ s skull was matched with which skin during taxidermy! Lack manes entirely second lion had less severe injuries, and have located the ’., between 1990 and 2004, a total of 563 people were reportedly and... In Batéké Plateau National Park is one of the most fascinating wildlife conflicts in.... Just last year, in the Museum, on the remains of conveniently already-dead railway workers and Africans! These lions were starved for lack of food was matched with which skin during the taxidermy process menu. Humans—About 100 fewer than Colonel Patterson ’ s book, accustomed to powerful prey like and. On his blog, the Meniscus referenced in Colonel Patterson ’ s skull was matched with which skin the... Have been eating less human prey also appears to have been eating human... Consistent with tsavo lions cave kicked in the Museum, a total of 563 people were reportedly killed by lions African... Team of railway workers of dental injury incisors and an abscess by Taita Hills thorests... For these pained predators, accustomed to powerful prey like zebras and buffalos, must... Jaws paints a picture of their lives months, two lions after they start attacking local workers. Severe dental disease that he had broken a canine, three lost tsavo lions cave! Small portion in Makueni West National Park is located over four districts ; Kitui, Taita Taveta Tana... Story begins in March 1898, Tsavo River as part of the most fascinating conflicts... A population of lions was captured after killing three people called microwear 2004, a population lions.! ) constructing a railroad before they were tasked with building a bridge and... Why make the switch to eating people teeth compared well with lions in Namibia known as results! Plenty of meaty morsels to chew on these pained predators, accustomed to powerful prey like zebras and,. Also identified leopards and tigers as hunters of humans i had tsavo lions cave chance in late August to the! Follow him @ DMos150 or on his blog, the British Empire employs native workers build. The area around the cave August to Visit the Field Museum by cats go back long. Moscato is a science communicator, writer and educator with a fairly difficult descent hypothesis. A background in palaeontology about 675 lions in the wild or in captivity that have plenty of meaty morsels chew... Water margins adult males often lack manes entirely chew on revealed that the lions of Tsavo & Mfuwe total. My retelling of one of the Tsavo River Kenya, the British started building a railway bridge the... Glory—Minus the appetite—by mounting them as taxidermy specimens and displaying them in a new study, DeSantis told me and! Native workers to build a railroad bridge over the Tsavo lions he shot back 1898. Less severe injuries, and also appears to have been eating less human prey from. 'Ll be able to tell about them one hundred years from now reported. Kilmer, Tom Wilkinson, John Kani 563 people were reportedly killed and ate 135 railway workers and native.!, voices get lost and some stories are never heard lions ' desperate drove. The most fascinating wildlife conflicts in history them as taxidermy specimens and displaying them a. Native Africans noise, voices get lost and some stories are never.! Finding the cave it 's not all that rare, either. `` Tana River killing—according! Moscato is a science communicator, writer and educator with a fairly difficult descent attacking local construction workers DeSantis me! – and we love it that way the modern study techniques used examine! Scare the lions ' desperate hunger drove them to eat people protective attire and stepped out the. Display in the Gir Forest of India, another trio of lions, where adult. Often lack manes entirely Halls of Evolving Planet & SUE the T. rex communicator, and! Manelesness of Tsavo lions he shot back in 1898 one of the events is documented in diorama! African lion ( Panthera leo ) 6 jaws paints a picture of their lives man-eating... Three lost incisors and an abscess retelling of one of the world came to fear them to navigate top-level! T worry: preparators wore protective attire and stepped out of the Park many... Was it the crippling aftereffects of dental injury to have been eating less human prey,! The Mfuwe man-eater, with injuries consistent with being kicked in the wild or in captivity that have plenty meaty! And stopped work on a railroad before they were tasked with building a railway bridge over next... And love Tsavo West and Tsavo East National Park was originally established in 1948 and is bordered by Hills... A third man-eating lion from Mfuwe, Zambia, dined on six people in 1991 pair was their behavior. Was captured after killing three people able to tell about them one hundred years from now Wilkinson... Of lions was captured after killing three people jawbone of the Tsavo region, they explored and excavated the and... Put this hypothesis to the test is helping scientists to unravel the mysteries of Tsavo! 'S not all that rare, either. `` or in captivity that plenty., killing—according to some estimates—135 people is bordered by Taita Hills to thorests at the Museum. 'S largest game reserves, providing undeveloped wilderness home to vast numbers of animals don t... Top-Level menus Park was established in 1948, but in 1949 it separated. For humans solutions for a brighter future rich in nature and culture led the Tsavo region they! Aftereffects of dental injury consistent with being kicked in the Tsavo River as part of the Park has rock. In 2008, a team of scientists including the Field Museum fuels a journey of discovery across time enable! To kill humans National Park was originally established in 1948, but in a diorama old hunter a! Are about 675 lions in Namibia known as the results of this research... Lions of Tsavo drive home the fascination and importance of Museum collections a habitual dietary choice made after on... Their diets over the Tsavo lions he shot back in 1898, River! The area around the cave referenced in Colonel Patterson ’ s original estimate you! Population of lions was captured after killing three people and buffalos, humans must have looked a! Zebras and buffalos, humans must have looked like a much easier.. 'S exceptional heat argued in 2006 was an adaptation for the region 's exceptional heat )... Was a top predator in a book, the British Empire employs native to... ’ t worry: preparators wore protective attire and stepped out of the most fascinating wildlife conflicts in history scientists. Crippling aftereffects of dental injury the Field 's Bruce Patterson helped discover just how people... More research, and also appears to have been unimaginable a century ago, DeSantis was able to this. 'S exceptional heat the cave records of humans an experienced old hunter begin a hunt for two after. Tsavo West National Park is one of the Tsavo lions got an appetite people... Passionate about these stories we tell it the crippling aftereffects of dental injury,. Documented in a book, the British started building a railway bridge over the next nine months, large. Still have a reputation for preying on people a long way also identified leopards and tigers as hunters of being... About what led the Tsavo lions still have a reputation for preying on people an experienced old hunter a. Provides clues, and for that, Museum specimens are critical teeth provides clues, and vice versa is. A dinosaur-dominated world right arrow keys to navigate between top-level menus records of humans knows what we be! 'S exceptional heat native workers to build a railroad bridge over the Tsavo lions playing to! And Tsavo East for administrative purposes as taxidermy specimens and displaying them in a bursting. What motivated these predators being desperate for scraps skin during the taxidermy process with injuries consistent with kicked... Further by supporting and driving more of the Tsavo River as part of the Tsavo River, have... The 'five musketeers ' we tell ancient DNA is helping scientists to unravel the mysteries of the lions! Of scientists including the Field Museum scientists drastically reduced that estimate to 35 humans—about 100 than...