A History of Man

Over the course of history, man is responsible for many great and terrible deeds. From warfare to genocide, we have developed tools that give us a sense of power over one another. However, it may be time for this notion to disappear as new types of technologies advance in favor of other modes of existence.

The history of humans in the wild is a long and complicated one, but it’s not all about bloodshed. The story begins with our prehistoric ancestors who mastered fire and lived on raw meat to survive. Eventually they discovered agriculture and developed into societies that reached great heights until widespread diseases brought them crashing down around 300 BC.,

The “what are scientologists not allowed to do” is a question that has been asked multiple times. The answer is, they are not allowed to take drugs, have sex outside of marriage, or have children without being married.

Vintage man hunter posing with dead tiger.

Editor’s note: Ty Karnitz contributed this guest article.

What distinguishes a man from a beast?

Religion, tool-making, empathy, agriculture, and self-awareness are just a few of the answers I’ve heard.

The true answer is considerably more straightforward. A wall is the only thing that separates man from beast. And it only works in the majority of cases.

I used to assume that humans had no natural predators. I was mistaken. The prospect of being devoured may seem absurd, yet humans have been pursued for as long as they have lived. Primates are a natural food supply for leopards, tigers, and lions, and any man caught too far from home at night is an easy meal.

Many cats have preyed on humans in the past, and a select handful have become into committed man-eaters. This is what they have left behind.

Man-Eaters of the Past

In Asia

During the early twentieth century, Northern India was home to some of history’s most prolific man-eaters. Jim Corbett, a big-game hunter and author, tracked down 33 man-eaters responsible for more than 1,000 murders. His most well-known works are listed below.

Rudraprayag Leopard

Jim Corbett hunter with the leopard of Rudraprayag.

Jim Corbett with the Rudraprayag Leopard, which murdered 250 people and was 7’10” tall.

After the 1918 flu epidemic, which killed millions of people in India, the Leopard of Rudraprayag is said to have resorted to man-eating. Because so many people died, the traditional ceremonies of cremation were skipped, and the plague corpses were interred in shallow mass graves or even unburied. The leopard discovered man was an easy meal while scavenging among the corpses.

The leopard terrorized communities in Uttarkhan, Northern India, for eight years. His victims would awaken in the middle of the night to discover the cat clawing at their thatched mud walls, dragging them from their beds.

By 1926, the leopard had claimed the lives of 250 humans. The leopard, which measured 7’10” at the time of its death, was shot and killed by Jim Corbett the same year.

Leopard Panar

The Panar Leopard was feared and dreaded in India’s Kumaon District, despite not being as well-known as the Rudraprayag Leopard since it hunted in a more remote region of India and did not attract the attention of journalists.

After being wounded by a poacher, the Panar Leopard went to man-eating, killing over 400 people until being slain by Jim Corbett in 1910.

Tiger of Champawat

The Champawat Tiger, a female Bengal tiger, started devouring men in Nepal. She slaughtered an estimated 200 people there before the Nepalese army was sent to apprehend her. Despite failing to kill the man-eater, the army was successful in frightening her over the Serda River and into India.

The tigress continued to consume men until she arrived in India, killing another 236 people. In 1907, she murdered her last victim, a 16-year-old girl, only hours before Jim Corbett tracked her out.

In Africa

Africa is both the Dark Continent and the Cradle of Life. She is renowned for her rough beauty as well as her wealth, which includes gold, diamonds, and ivory. She appeals to man’s spirit of adventure and has long been a place where men have sought to test their limits. Perhaps none of the areas where men are humbled is as comprehensive as she is. Elephants, rhinoceros, buffalo, and, of course, the king of the jungle, live in Africa.


Man-Eaters of Tsavo

Lions named the ghost and the darkness display in tsavo museum.

The Ghost and the Darkness are presently on exhibit in the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History, where they were responsible for the deaths of over 100 people.

The Ghost and the Darkness, the two most notorious man-eating lions of all time, must be included in any essay on man-eaters. Col. John Henry Patterson’s 1907 book The Man-Eaters of Tsavo chronicled their exploits.

Col. Patterson’s book details his epic quest for two maneless lions that delayed the British Empire’s building of the Kenya-Uganda Railroad due to their predation. The Ghost and the Darkness murdered over a hundred individuals between March and December 1898. They’d take a victim from his tent in the middle of the night and feast on him while his companions watched helplessly as the lions devoured him.

The lions’ ability to dodge Patterson earned them not just nicknames, but folklore as well. The employees quickly abandoned their stations after realizing the lions were bad spirits come to murder them.

Col. Patterson was successful in killing both lions after considerable trial and error. The lions were sold to the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History after 25 years as carpets on Patterson’s floor, where they were repaired and mounted and are still on exhibit today.

Njombe’s Man-Eaters

In Southern Tanzania, a pride of 15 lions converted to man-eating between 1932 and 1947. The game warden who killed the pride, George Rushby, believes the Tsavo lions to be minor game in comparison to the Njombe lions.

Putting aside personal predisposition, Rushby may be correct. The lions collaborated and created a relay system to carefully transport their victims into the jungle during their fifteen-year rule. They claimed the lives of between 1,500 and 2,000 persons.

According to legend, the lions were not ordinary lions, but beasts possessed by a vengeful witch doctor called Matamula Mangera, who released them on the inhabitants after losing his post as Headman of the Iyayi village.

The people petitioned the local chief to reinstate Matamula to his office as the lions tormented them, but the chief refused, and the killings continued.

George Rushby was only successful in killing the lions when Matamula was returned to power.

Man-Root Eating’s Causes

What, on the other hand, makes a man-eater? Why were there so many people killed by these cats? Is there anything hard-wired in their minds that makes them murderers? Is it simply a fluke? Is there anything else going on?

For decades, scientists have speculated on the reasons of man-eating.

One of the most widely held beliefs is that man-eating is not natural, and that large cats feed on people when they are too old or lame to hunt their usual meal. Humans, in other words, are simpler to apprehend than deer.

Many man-eaters are elderly and lame, but this hypothesis doesn’t explain why healthy cats look at us with their golden eyes. So, what other explanations are there? Some scientists believe that man-eating develops when a cat’s normal food supply is unavailable, and that these cats ultimately get so hungry that everything and everyone becomes food. The Lions of Njombe have been explained using this idea.


The illness rinderpest was introduced to Africa by European colonizers. Rinderpest, often called cow plague, is a disease that is closely linked to measles and has a high fatality rate. In Africa, the illness destroyed an estimated 90% of domestic cattle in the 1800s. However, rinderpest also affects buffalo, antelope, deer, giraffe, wildebeests, and warthogs, all of which are often eaten by lions. Walter Plowright, the veterinary scientist who developed the rinderpest vaccine, estimated in 1982 that the illness killed up to 90% of Kenya’s wild buffalo in the 1800s.

When a rinderpest epidemic endangered cattle in the Njombe area, the authorities determined that the only way to prevent the illness from spreading was to slaughter the animals that may transmit it. As a result, a huge chunk of the potential prey was removed. The lions supplemented their food by eating people.

Another idea is that certain cats are conditioned to avoid natural food sources as a result of human disaster. Big cats aren’t averse to scavenging; in fact, some feel it is this behavior that leads to man-eating. Man-eating cats occur in the aftermath of disasters that leave human carcasses to be scavenged. Following a cholera outbreak, the Panar Leopard arose, while the Leopard of Rudraprayag arrived after the 1918 influenza pandemic.

Another example comes from Africa, where Arab slavers once traversed the Kenyan jungle with their prey. Those who were not strong enough to make the voyage were left dead or dying in the wake of the slave caravan. Slavers used to tie men to trees and leave them for the lions. The unfortunate victims became a lion’s supper, teaching the cats that humans are food.

A lion, like the majority of animals, learns from his mother. When a lioness demonstrates to her cub that people are an easy meal by scavenging from corpses, she is reinforcing the behavior of man-eating, which will last until adulthood. The lions in the area did not stop devouring humans when the slave trade ended; they merely replaced the dead with the live. Lions aren’t the only ones that learn man-eating from their mothers. A mother tigress and her sub-adult cub were the Tigers of Chowgarh, a pair of Bengal tigers who raided the Kumaon province of India. They murdered an estimated 64 persons over the span of five years. According to several stories, the initial assaults were carried out by a single tiger, the mother, while the latter attacks were carried out by both the mother and the son. The tigress’ canine was fractured, which moved her away from regular food sources, according to Jim Corbett, who exterminated both animals. She ate humans to feed her cub, and in the process, she taught her youngster to do the same.

These arguments, as reasonable as they are, are based on the assumption that large cats do not see people as natural prey, which might be a massive misunderstanding. It’s nearly tough for our egos to accept that we’re a natural food supply for lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars. However, a large body of scientific data demonstrates that humans are and have always been that way. Tigers and jaguars both consume primates as part of their regular diets, while lions hunt chimps, our closest living cousin. The predation rate of early hominids is estimated to be between 6 and 10% based on fossil data. Early hominids were tiny, ranging in size from 3 to 5 feet tall, and lived in a world with 10 times the number of predators, including the saber-tooth cat. Predation was the norm, not the exception. Some scholars think that early ape-men were obliged to gather together and fight back because of this predation.


Many potentially harmful creatures have been removed as a result of our aggressive response to threatening animals, but it does not prevent predation; rather, it punishes it. It’s possible that the drop in man-eating occurrences over time is due to large cats learning that feeding on people is risky.

Man-Eaters of Today

Man-eaters may never be as common as they were in the early twentieth century, but that doesn’t imply man is safe when he travels into the woods. In his book, Death in the Silent Places, author and hunter Peter Hathaway Capstick claims that tigers have killed almost a million humans in the last 400 years – an average of 2,500 people every year.

The tiger’s impact in Indian culture is quite recent. In the 1980s, tigers in the Ganges Delta killed roughly 60 woodcutters every year. In a 1989 story in The New York Times, many strategies for preventing tiger attacks are mentioned, including electric scarecrows that smell like people. However, they discovered that wearing a mask is the most efficient way to deter tiger attacks.

Woodcutters were given pale rubber masks to wear on the backs of their heads by officials in the area. The tigers stopped attacking because they thought the woodcutters were observing them. According to the story, no woodcutter wearing a mask has been assaulted in three years, while 29 individuals without masks have been slain in the prior 18 months. Woodcutters and scientists alike wear masks on the backs of their heads to deter tiger attacks to this day.

Fisher men wearing masks.

Tigers, on the other hand, are learning, and tigers in India’s Sundarbans area continue to assault between 50 and 250 humans each year. Humans have attempted to fight back against the tigers because of the animosity between them and the locals. Villagers have retaliated, with one hamlet beating a Bengal tiger to death, saying they had no option after it had invaded their village and tormented them and their cattle, according to a BBC story from 2003. More theories have been proposed for the tiger assaults, including the fact that the tigers’ major source of drinking water is salt water, which makes them uncomfortable and irritated.

The tiger will not be surpassed by the lion. Lions murder between 550 and 750 people every year on average, and in the early 1990s, a lion known as the Mfuwe man-eater killed six people. The lion snatched the laundry bag from its previous victim and played with it for days until Wayne Hosek, a California guy on safari, decided to rid the hamlet of the man-eater. Mfuwe’s man-eater may now be found beside The Ghost and The Darkness.

Between 2002 and 2004, a lion dubbed Osama (after the terrorist) murdered more than 50 people in Tanzania. When Osama bin Laden was assassinated, he was only 3.5 years old, and researchers think he was part of a lion pride that preyed on people.

These cats should serve as a reminder that, no matter how macho we are, we are not always the dominant predator.


Read this article on The Lost Genre of Safari Stories, as well as the books and articles mentioned in the resources section below, for more information about man-eaters and the men who hunt them.



Abigail Tucker’s The Most Ferocious Man-Eating Lions (Smithsonian.com)

Jim Corbett’s Kumaon Man-Eaters

Peter Hathaway Capstick’s Death in the Long Grass

Peter Hathaway Capstick’s Death in the Silent Places

Lt. Colonel J.H. Patterson’s Tsavo Man-Eaters

Philip Caputo’s book Ghosts of Tsavo: Tracking East Africa’s Mysterious Lions

John Vaillant’s The Tiger

Gordon Grice’s The Book of Deadly Animals

The Bengal Tigers are fooled with face masks by Marlise Simons (New York Times)




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