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Study reveals one of Tsavo’s lions ate most human prey

By | November 4th 2009

By Reuters

Two man-eating lions terrorised residents during the building of a railroad bridge over the Tsavo River in the late 19th century, but only one was making regular meals of human prey, researchers said on Monday.

The lions attacked and devoured workers building the Ugandan Railway line through Kenya during several months in 1898, stalling construction and creating a legend that became fodder for the 1996 movie "The Ghost and the Darkness."

The man-eaters, whose skins are displayed at the Field Museum in Chicago, were finally slain a few weeks apart in December 1898 by British officer John Henry Patterson.

Patterson often claimed the predators had killed 135 people but that figure has been disputed.

Other researchers at the Field Museum analysed Patterson’s journal and other accounts to arrive at a much lower range of probable victims of the lions.

In the latest research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a researcher at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and one at the Field Museum analysed the hair and teeth of the beasts to determine what they ate.

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