Man Eating Lions, Tigers And Leopards

The Tsavo Man Eaters Were Maneless, Morguefile
On occasions, felines have been known to hunt men and women. There are many factors that can turn a big cat into a potential man eater.

These include, threats to the natural habitat, dead bodies left unburied following conflict, a severe wound rendering humans the easiest option available and cases of mistaken identity. If humans are sitting or crouched pantherines may confuse them with four legged mammals.

Man Eating Lions

Undoubtedly the most famous incident was in Tsavo, Kenya a little over a century ago when two mane less man eating lions brought the great Tsavo railway project to a halt as over a hundred coolies were savagely taken from their camp lodgings and devoured.
These two hunted cooperatively and evaded baits laced with poison, traps that Colonel James Patterson the project engineer devised and even pressed their way through ‘bomas’, thorn fences that were designed to keep the marauders out. Patterson was an excellent and capable hunter and tracked them himself. He spent long, tiresome nights waiting up in a ‘machan’, a platform erected in a tree at a suitable height in an attempt to shoot them whilst leaving life prey under the tree he was perched in.
Patterson eventually shot both lions and they can be viewed today at the Natural History Museum in Chicago. The absence of manes was a peculiar characteristic specific to the lions in the Tsavo region. Their motive appeared to be the accessibility and abundance of easy prey coupled with the fact that if the workers sat down or were crouched whilst digging they could easily be identified as lion fodder.

Man Eating Tigers

The most notorious region for man eating tigers is in the Sundarbarns in North East India. Traditionally this was a swampland and tiger paradise. Forest workers now often wear masks on the back of the head to give the impression that they are aware of the tigers movements despite the fact that they themselves probably wouldn’t see a tiger until it is too late. More recently biologists have started experimenting with packs of trained dogs to collectively prevent tigers from encroaching into villages. This is similar to how hounds tree Pumas in the United States.
Certain injuries also greatly increase the likelihood of tigers altering their diet. Porcupine quills are curved and are extremely difficult to completely remove. If a tiger sustains one in its paw then its running capabilities are severely reduced making humans the easiest target. Broken canines are painful too making it difficult to subdue a large creature such as a buffalo. Humans are therefore again an easier option.

Man Eating Leopards

The legendary Jim Corbett is the most renowned hunter turned big cat conservationist and ended his years shooting with a camera instead of his trusty rifles. His most celebrated success was stopping the man eating leopard of Rudraprayag which was responsible for the deaths of over one hundred individuals.
Though about a third the size of the tiger, leopards are more adept in trees, have greater agility and a savage temper if provoked. Often people jest in a dry manner that no one spots a man eating leopard until it is hanging on their back and rendering it too late to take action. Unfortunately in view of their size difference a human makes a more substantial meal for leopard than for a lion or tiger.

Shooting with Cameras or Guns?

On a final note it should be remembered that apart from a few noteworthy exceptions big cats that prey on humans are non-representative of their kind. Consider that around 1900 there were 100,000 tigers in India alone and by the close of the century they were reduced to approximately 2,000. Neither are humans the natural prey as attacks usually occur when these creatures are injured, have their natural environment encroached on or mistake humans for animal life. Why not join Jim Corbett and shoot them with a camera which also requires skill and patience?

The copyright of the article Man Eating Lions, Tigers And Leopards in Mammals is owned by Jonathan Taylor. Permission to republish Man Eating Lions, Tigers And Leopards in print or online must be granted by the author in writing.