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THE MAN-EATING LIONS OF TSAVO: REASSESSMENTS AND OTHER MAN-EATING LIONS TO THE PRESENT - PART 1

Posted on August 29, 2011 at 6:40 PM




THE MAN-EATING LIONS OF TSAVO: VARIOUS REASSESSMENTS

AND

OTHER MAN-EATING LIONS TO THE PRESENT DAY - PART 1

 

CONTROVERSY OVER THE MAN-EATING LIONS OF TSAVO

 

Posted on: Tuesday, 3 November 2009, 05:45 CST

Scientists now believe that the two infamous man-eating lions of Tsavo, which allegedly claimed 135 victims during railroad construction in Kenya in 1898, may have only killed around 35 people.

Lt. Col. John H. Patterson, a British officer who killed the lions in December, 1898, claimed the lions killed 135 people in nightly attacks and halted work on the 1898 railway expansion.

The Ugandan Railway Company argued that only 28 people were killed, but the detailed description of Patterson's nine month lion hunt made his account more believable.

After an analysis of bone and hair samples from the lions, which Patterson sold to Chicago's Field Museum in 1924 after using their hides as rugs, researchers discovered that the railway company's account was more accurate.





"This has been a historical puzzle for years, and the discrepancy is now finally being addressed," said Nathaniel Dominy, an anthropology professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Isotopes were analyzed to determine the number of people actually factored in to the diets of the lions so that researchers could tell approximately how many humans the lions would have to eat in order to survive. Based on the data, the researchers found that one lion probably consumed 11 people, and the other lion likely ate 24 more people in their last nine months.

According to Dominy, the analysis suggests an "outside chance" that, at most, a total of 75 people were killed. He also noted that there may have been others killed, yet not eaten. Dominy believes that Patterson’s claim that 135 people had been killed by the lions was more than likely blown out of proportion to help elevate his reputation.





[Cryptozoologist's Note: Dominy's suggestion that the number of people killed could vary from as few as 28 to as many as 75 (a difference of approximately 168%) demonstrates the inadequacy of drawing meaningful conclusions from isotope analysis based on the surviving physical evidence in a case such as this. In addition, there seems to be some unneccesary discrepancy over whether these lions killed 135 people or actually ate 135 people. Patterson made it very clear that the lions "killed" 135 people, and that this number included not only railway workers but local natives as well. Consequently, it is entirely possible that fewer people were actually consumed, since the lions may have been disturbed for one reason or another before being able to feed on many of their kills. On the other hand, Patterson reported that the lions would leave the area for extended periods of time, which means they were probably killing people in other areas of which the railroad company may not have been aware, but of which Patterson was cognizant. Finally, Dominy's comment that, "Patterson’s claim...was more than likely blown out of proportion to help elevate his reputation" is not only highly debatable—it seems painfully obvious that the Ugandan Railway Company would have had the most to lose if 135 people had been killed, as reported by Patterson, rather than their reported 28—but borders on libelous, especially now that Patterson is no longer alive to defend himself! Is it possible that Prof. Dominy is guilty of the very misrepresentation he has accused Col. Patterson of? Let the reader decide!]

The study goes on to say that during the last months, which Patterson described as a "reign of terror", about half of one lion’s diet was made up of humans, with the rest consisting of mid-sized herbivores such as impala and gazelles. The other lion's diet was more dependent on grazing animals

One of the lions had even sustained significant dental and a jaw injuries that made hunting difficult.

The lions were probably attracted to the railroad camp for food after drought and disease wiped out their usual prey, says Dominy.

The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

ANOTHER MAN-EATER AT THE FIELD MUSEUM?

In September, 1991, while on a hunting safari to Zambia, Africa, Wayne Hosek was asked by the locals if he could help hunt down a maneating lion that had been terrorizing the town of Mfuwe. Wayne agreed to take on the task. With some serious effort put forth, the lion was finally shot about two weeks later. It turned out to be a spectacular specimen—the largest man-eating lion ever recorded. Like the Tsavo maneaters, it, too was a maneless male. Wayne, well aware of the story of the Tsavo maneaters, and their less-than-perfect mounting job, saw to it that this lion's skin was properly collected and dried. Later, Wayne had this lion mounted (taxidermy work done by the noted taxidermist Bob Snow). He then donated it to the Field Museum. It went on display in 1999.





The Maneater of Mfuwe Was Responsible for Eating At Least Six People
.
The Maneater of Mfuwe is not on display with the Tsavo maneaters. Instead, it is in the museum's lower level, near the children's exhibits. Going down the staircase from near the Egypt exhibit, you will find the Maneater of Mfuwe under the staircase. This kind of odd location displays the lion in the best possible way. It is possible to closely examine the lion from all angles. The first impression one gets from looking at this lion is that it is HUGE! One also notices that this mount is properly proportioned, giving you an idea of what a large male lion looks like without the mane. All notoriety aside, this is a fine specimen to study. In any case, this lion is worth a good, long look.

The Field Museum does have a small webpage about the Maneater of Mfuwe. There, you will find a detailed account of the taking of this lion, as well as an interesting photo showing Mfuwe "coming" out of his shipping crate.

 

 



THE MAN-EATER OF MFUWE
Narrative by
Wayne Allen Hosek

Looking into the eyes of the Tsavo man-eating lions on exhibit in the Chicago Field Museum as a child led me on a pursuit that eventually put me face to face with another man-eating lion as a grown man. The exhibit fueled my appetite to learn more, but it never prepared me to be looking into the hungry jaws of another man-eater.

September 1, 1991, my first evening in camp afforded me the opportunity to meet a visiting lion expert from Japan. He had come with a single purpose, to study the situation and hunt down a man-eating lion. Earlier in the week while scouting among the villages with Game Management Scouts, they encountered three lionesses near a hut, and he shot one of them. In the two preceding months five other lionesses had been killed in the village areas outside of hunting concessions and of course the National Parks where hunting is prohibited. It was his opinion at the time that she was the man-eater. Despite the kill, he was returning to Japan not at all content the next morning. He knew that the man-eater was still alive since the sixth known victim of the Man-eater of Mfuwe had succumbed to the beast the very night before. I was very interested in the enticing conversation but I had no desire to become involved with the man-eating problem.






The discussion was quite informative and intriguing though, with Charl attesting to the fact that every year for 10 years 8 maned lions had been taken out his assigned safari designated area. With the presence of additional numerous lions in and amongst the villages, there was no doubt in my mind I was in the center of ‘lion country’. Some believed that the lionesses were part of a male man-eater's pride. Charl maintained that if that was so, the man-eater had witnessed the lionesses being shot, and this had probably made him even cleverer. The expert from Japan was not the first outsider to fail to kill the man-eater: a professional hunter by the name of Carr had also made numerous attempts to get near the man-eater, but the lion seemed to always run away and stay away from whichever area of the villages Carr was working. Pressure was building for a solution. Local officials were open to any help and suggestions to help extricate them from the problem. They had approached Charl and other professional hunters to get involved, but their commitments to their clients and other responsibilities made such diversion prohibitive.

Having made the 35 hour journey from Los Angeles to Kamana Camp on the Luangwa, I retired to my quarters and fell immediately asleep, as the bush came alive with noise that surrounded our open-air 3-walled straw huts. Up well before dawn, we prepared to begin exploring the concession and check for lion spoor at baits hung in a few locations several miles away. Greatly excited, I met the three trackers who would complete our ‘team’, Gilbert, Boniface and Ken, who had grown up in the area hunting for sustenance. Very familiar with the area, they would be working with us, at times with autonomy.










As we went about our business, Charl commented that I had slept quite well. My curiosity got the best of me, and I asked him how he had come to that conclusion. He told me that soon after everyone turned in to their quarters, a group of hyenas started prowling around the skinning shed, seeming to enjoy every minute of it. Their hooting and howling continued intermittently for a couple of hours despite efforts to drive them away. Later a baboon broke through the camp ‘kitchen’ door, and began thrashing everything he could get his hands on, making and apparently enjoying the noise he made with the camp's pots and pans. Last but hardly the least, about midnight, a herd of elephants glided into camp and began ripping at trees eating and chomping and grumping and getting in each others way, possibly as they stripped the flower beds in the center of our camp about midnight. The elephants were not less than 30 feet from every one of us during their raid. This went on, I was told, for another solid hour, as the entire camp lay awake, talking back and forth to each other from their individual quarters. Finally, after an hour of siege, the camp manager, an English lady named Joan, asked Charl to ‘For God’s sake do something’. With his 12 gauge shot gun, Charl ran out of his quarters shouting and began to shoot in the air above the elephants’ heads. His actions worked, yet I made a mental note to myself that these animals in Africa were anything but shy. It was the last good night's rest I would salvage until I departed camp two weeks later.






After 3 days of wide exploration throughout the designated concession into areas that seemed, under the conditions, to be the most favorable spots for wildlife, following game trails and crossing points to the Parks, we found no indication that any mature male lions were visiting inside our designated concession. We saw and observed many lionesses and one or two young males, but no mature males. Even when we observed several lions at a time in early dawn hours, skirting in the river boundaries of the national parks, none were mature males nor had manes. Incredibly, no Cape buffalo, common to the area, were spotted either. A two year drought kept the Cape herds along with most species common to the area, hanging back in the high water table in the Parks. We visited one Park briefly and, indeed, conditions there also were worsening as they had begun browsing. The Park bushes and trees were being stripped rapidly. The lions were crowding things over there, no doubt. At night we heard their roars, calls, and snarls mixed with occasional elephant squeals and trumpets. The leopard sawing was incessant, intermingled with the almost predictable hippo calls and hyena chatter close to camp. Despite my fears, I was in my dream world.









I pondered the increasingly frustrating situation. On the one hand, we could continue to work very hard in the heat and flies, until I was scheduled to leave and join Bryan Findlay-Cooper along with Charlie and Jerry to tour Bryan's southern Zambia concessions, Victoria Falls, and especially the Kfuwe flats with the famed Kfuwe Lechwe whose habitat and population Bryan was actively trying to preserve. On the plus side was that other species were present, not in large numbers except for Impala. We did have success in taking three: a sizable Sharpe’s Grysbok, a large Southern Greater Kudu running with two others, and from a healthy herd of about 50, ‘record book’ sized Cookeson’s Wildebeest, in that order. The trackers and Charl painted my face with the Grysbok’s blood, a customary ritual with ones’ first African trophy.















But it appeared that the prospect of even seeing a mature male lion during the next 11 days was bleak based on the signs thus far. The drought was almost two years old, and no seasonal rain was due for 3 months. When it would come, the camp would in all likelihood be washed out, as it had been each of the last 10 years. The chances of any cape herds migrating through our area before then remained slim.

Charlie and Gerry and two other professional hunters (hereafter referred to by the author as "PH’s") were also looking for lion spoor during their work and tracking. Close to the farthest border of the concession, devoid of rivers and creeks, they had found only lionesses drinking from a tepid, algae filled water hole. They spent three days observing the water hole, seeing different lionesses but without any sign of a male lion.





I kept reminding myself to heed the warnings of friends and others who had experienced rural Africa: Don't waste time. The Africa environment can be treacherous. Take advantage of every opportunity. Be extremely cautious. There will be many unforeseen pitfalls. It's easy for someone to come back at best disappointed. Don't hunt "cats" the first time you go...try a short 5-day trip the first time to just get adjusted to Africa. It's a long way away from home. Remember, anything can happen. Their words kept ringing in my ears. Almost as loudly as the ringing of silence from the noon day heat. Even the Tsetse flies seemed to have taken a break from harassing us around noon.

On the other hand, although I had embarked on this safari full of fear and apprehension and faced with countless unknowns, I finally decided that a rational man would make changes in the situation that might improve it, if at all possible. Laying back onto my bed, with the wind blowing through the shady camp, drying up every little vapor of moisture, conscious thoughts of the man-eating lion started to meld with the others. Gazing with half-closed eyelids out across the Luangwa to the village area, I felt a sense of urgency, almost a compulsion, to intervene. To not do so would be irresponsible. The entire camp's priorities revolved around my decisions, and to continue on our path would be an exercise of my self-will and not be of service for the others in camp or for those in the villages. Despite good intentions, no one had been successful so far. In fact just the opposite was true: villagers continued to be attacked and 6 lionesses had been needlessly killed. "To him who knows good and doesn't do it is sin" I told myself.





After a look at the calendar—based on what I’d experienced so far, particularly the obvious capability of my hosts, the impact of the drought conditions, my excellent shooting ability so far, and that despite being fatigued, I felt physically strong—I met late one afternoon with the camp PH’s and, taking the ‘step into the unknown’, I announced that I would go after the man-eater. He was after all, a "large male with a huge mane" some of the villagers steadfastly maintained. We knew he was there and didn't appear to be going anywhere else soon, especially with the terror and evil he was perpetrating. We knew where the man-eater was—he was in the villages. Despite my own self-assurance, I didn't feel comfortable with the decision. Three months earlier when I committed to this excursion, I was sure, yet I chalked it up to the fable "that’s what happens in Africa".

Charl and Willie had for some time very much doubted he was full-maned if at all. They felt that some of the villagers had asserted this simply as a ploy to continue to induce hunters to come into the area to compete for his hide. Theories that the man-eater was a lioness, based on descriptions of the man-eater given by many villagers that had been the premise of the Game Scouts hunts, lent credence to the theory that, if a male, he was maneless. Very little was known about the specifics of the Game Management Scouts’ activities involving the lionesses except for information given by the Japanese expert who shot the lioness.




Charl confirmed that my going after the man-eater would still generate revenue for the Project, our being outside the approximately 5400 square mile designated area. And, if successful, it would solve what was the major problem of the moment for the local villagers, the Project Administrators and Game Management Scouts. It would give Charlie and Jerry more latitude in their efforts, as we would be working completely away from the concession area. It was sure to be risky, I knew, but it had the potential solution for thousands of people and their children. Charl and Willie and I immediately turned our attention to the unknown arena of hunting the man-eater.

During the next two days we visited various villages where the lion had been seen. We listened to villagers’ descriptions of him and his activities, and put together as best could be done, the latest pattern and whereabouts. At the same time, our trackers worked the area relentlessly. The man-eater's last victim from the village of Ngozo was an adult woman named Jesleen. She had been the topic of discussions my first evening. Encountering the children's fear-filled eyes, and listening to each story from the terrified villagers, caused my paradigm to would shift slightly, generating a process that slowly allowed my mental state to change.

A day after the lion ate Jesleen, it was without question positively identified under macabre circumstances: he was seen entering the victim's house and leaving carrying her white ‘carry’ bag full of some of her possessions! He went roaring about the village while the people banged on pots and whatever they could pound until he left. After this return visit to Ngozo, he was seen playing with the bag from time to time, and a day later, it was found deposited in the dry Lupande River about a mile from her house. Being the dry season, most smaller riverbeds were dry, and even larger riverbeds were dried up more so than normal due to the second year of drought.




Despite the conditions, the banks on the Lupande were lined with healthy full bushes and tall green grass mixed in with dried shrubs and trees. Safe viewing had to begin by walking to a point in the middle of the riverbed, down far away from the lion's last known location. Village women would go in several small groups to dig down through the sandy riverbed about 3 feet to do their family's wash. When we arrived the closest group of women was more than a half mile from the victim's bag in clear sight of it. Even the hornbills lounging in the riverbed seemed to be giving the bag a wide berth.

That night, the lion had obviously toyed with the bag again, because the following morning his tracks led to its new spot a few hundred yards further up from its previous position. Each morning the villagers would take a peek at the bag’s position in order to confirm that the lion was playing with it and moving it during the night. The village elders counseled and concluded that the bag was bewitched. The lion, they felt, was most likely a sorcerer, or if not a demon, at the least demon possessed.

The cat seemed to revel in agonizing the villagers. He appeared in Ngozo again, cavorting around with the white bag, seeming to be only interested in playing with it like a domestic kitten playing with a new found toy, or catnip! The cat's harmless though disgusting escapade seemed to capture the imagination of everyone in the entire North Luangwa Valley within "no time". The man-eater spied the adult male villager who discovered him, but did not persist in pursuing or harassing him. The man stated the lion was maneless, corroborating earlier descriptions. We dubbed this escapade "the catnip episode".

One specific resident, a Game Management Scout, fearing greatly for his family's safety, had been continually on the lookout since the cat's first victim nearly two months earlier. During our conversation with him, with his children huddling timidly around him while he spoke, he told us that he had seen the cat trying to sneak into their village from the tall gold grass surrounding his village clearing the very day before the ‘catnip’ episode, and a few times since. From a vantage point on the edge of the river bank around 40 yards from the man's home, we could almost see the white bag’s most recent position. Lion tracks were visible on the perimeter of his residence clearing.

Other villagers told us that they believed the white bag to be bewitched and that they would not dare go near it. The Game Scout led us down into the middle of the riverbed, but would only point towards the white bag. He stopped at that point and would advance no further. It was the most eerie sight that soon met our eyes as we began following lion tracks in the Lupande with guns at hand: the white bag taken out of Jesleen’s hut. When I first laid my eyes on that white bag, my blood seemed to drain out of my body and to drop to my feet, and I felt a sinking feeling in my stomach. The searing heat seemed to dissipate, and my skin became cold. If what I felt was my blood ‘running cold’, then I want to keep it warm forever. This situation became a horrific ‘in my face’ reality. I realized I had not bargained for this state of reality nor did I really want it. There was no denying my feelings, but it seemed beyond my comprehension, and surreal. I wondered what had made me think I was ready for such a venture. I only knew I was never turning back.

With our guns ready, Charl kept murmuring, almost as if to himself, "He's big. He's big" while staring down at the pug marks. The atmosphere was intense and grim in that riverbed, and it became deeper and seemed to try to almost overpower any thoughts other than those of fear. My companions had deep frowns, tight lipped mouths and glaring eyes. I asked Willie where he thought the lion might be as we cautiously strolled through this ‘lion-annexed playground’. His feeling was that the man-eater could have been most anywhere: just behind the tall grass on the bank to our side, or 5 miles away. There was no telling. It was now apparent to me from their demeanors that our trackers were not at all pleased with the situation. Gilbert avoided looking me in the eyes. Ken and Boniface became reticent.






After following the spoor from the white bag, which now we dubbed 'the lion's bag’, it was decided to lay bait about 60 yards directly further up the Lupande from the bag, at the base of a small tree where the bank was about 25 feet above the river bottom. Blind site selection was easily done between trees about 50 yards from the bait. As sunset was fast approaching, we retired to camp. At dinner, the grimness of the situation was evident by the look on everyone's faces. The discussion was stern as to what we would need to do and what the lion might do.

As we were retiring to our individual grass huts, Charlie’s only direct comment to me for the evening was, " Remember to follow-up HARD as soon as you make your first shot." As I stood my rifle up against the straw-made post next to my head and dropped the mosquito netting over my bed, I was still in a state of disbelief at what I was immersed in. The cacophony of nightly rumbles, hoots, screeches, howls, roars squeals and screams from out of the bush were barely noticeable to me. It was a night where I would fall to sleep and then re-awake several times, after which I would pray each time, until our pre-dawn wake-up call.

The next morning our trackers built the blind using grass cut by nearby villagers as their contribution to our effort. A hippo haunch was carefully laid at the base of the fever tree in the riverbed and covered with some shrub. It was completed by about 3:30 P.M. when we entered the blind, knowing that we could not leave until the next morning, for it was too dangerous to leave at night with cats, and especially a man-eater, working the area. We had a clear field of vision approximately 60 feet in width to the bait in the riverbed, and on the opposite side we had the same with several yards of clear burnished ground leading up to the patchwork of shriveled scrub brush, thorn bush and fallen grass that led to the distant huts.

That first evening was uneventful until a grazing hippo took a long, deliberately slow approach towards the blind. I whispered warnings to Willie and Charl, who initially ignored me until the hippo literally ‘bumped’ into the side of the blind nearest our heads, and apparently catching our scent, did a quick hoppity-skip-and-a-jump away. The incessant insects and an occasional bat fluttered in and out of the blind. We were stirred three times by noises in the river. Once we saw that Willie viewed as a genet visiting the bait, but the lion did not appear. However, in the morning our trackers found his tracks about 50 feet from the blind when they came to get us. And fresh pugs appeared at the white bag, which again had been moved. He had come near the bait as well, yet he had stayed away. This lion was evidently quite cautious, and apparently was used to being around people.




After a brief stop at our camp, we grabbed some food and headed out to track and hunt all day. We took a Burchell’s Zebra from a herd of about 200 and returned to camp. After discussions at lunch about what to do next with the man-eater, Charl and Willie decided to try something new: consolidate our bait at the tree with a few baits from several of the spots used by the Rangers and the Japanese researcher near other villages a few miles away. This was a big project: we dragged these baits together, purposely going right by the ‘lion's bag', and placed them next ours. Charl and Willie were sure this night would bring the final contact. I began to feel the pressure mount moment by moment. I kept asking myself the question: ‘Is this really me doing this?' My entire being was beginning to become separated from everything and anything else I knew or thought I was.

Once again, we settled into the blind at about 3:30 PM and waited for a sign—any sign—of our man-eater. I was starting to feel exhausted from the time changes and from the lack of sleep since my first night's slumber. The unrelenting heat taking its toll, I dropped off into what I afterwards came to call a ‘blind sleep’— my eyes were closed, but my ears seemed to have acquired an ability to listen to each and every sound. I was in a parallel state of consciousness. It wasn't a half sleep or light sleep—or any kind of sleep I had ever experienced. When I asked Charl and Willie, they too described this mode of sleep, a sleep which they had long ago acquired.

During the night I was startled by a resounding sharp, 'CRACK!' above my head in the small trees next to the blind. Instinctively I kept still. I slowly turned my head, rolled my eyes to my right, and could see through the thin layer of elephant grass that made up the walls of the blind, two elephant legs, about 6 feet from my head. I rolled my eyes upward, and I could make out an elephant, virtually standing over my head! He was feeding off a tree next to the blind. I rolled my eyes and head slowly back to my left to see if Charl or Willie were either signaling to me or had made a move. Catlike, Charl rose from a lying position, crouched statue-like in silence, and turned to face toward the tusker with his .458 in hand pointing upward. A few minutes of contented munching later, the elephant moved on silently. We settled back down to our ‘sleep’. After this interruption, I found myself ignoring the grazing hippos, roaming hyenas and jackals with relative ease.




As the crimson dawn broke, we disappointedly waited inside the blind until our trackers Gilbert, Ken and Boniface came driving up from the village where they had slept. They told us that the lion had come through that village and they had listened to the commotion as he had caught and eaten a bush pig near them, whilst we had waited in vain. All of us stood silent for a minute or two. I was thinking, how very strange it was that he could stay away from us. Charl breaking the pensive mood, while staring at the ground said:" This one's crafty. He's really a crafty lion." Then looked me in the eye and with dread and bewilderment stated, " He knows what we are doing."




Again we stood silent for a minute— each in his own thoughts, grimly pondering the situation. Brooding with the others somewhat, I decided that I was not in the mood to think for too long. We needed to get some water, and perhaps wash the dust and grime and ‘whatever’ I picked up during the night. Except the thought about, "Do I know what I ‘m doing?" came into my mind.

We were frustrated by this unseen menace. Perhaps after so little sleep, so much stress and with everyone's spirits sinking, I realized that the lion was taking us to a new level of mental conflict now, much more than physically. Possibly somehow even spiritually. As we drove among more villages, we saw the people who were victimized and being held hostage by him. At Ngozo, we met Chief Kakumbi and Charl translated to me some of the accounts of the terror these people and especially their children had to endure.

My consciousness added a new dimension, which had been emerging almost without my realizing it: Outrage and anger. I was in a state of anger at the pitiful conditions many lived under, and the terror of the children, many of whom had a missing limbs, none of whom had shoes, all of whom had been protein deficient, and had been victimized by a myriad of diseases and wildlife. The children became my inspiration. This foul beast seemed to epitomize all of their hardships and sufferings. He had become an embodiment of evil, as he made prey of the weak and downtrodden.

Later that day I told Charl that the lion was beginning to enrage me. As we glanced at each other's bloodshot eyes, he nodded that he understood. Rage had taken a rightful place in my life. This was undoubtedly more than a simple hunt—it was a quest. The man-eater had become the center of all my life's purpose.




My adrenaline was peaking to a sustained level where there was nothing that could have added to the emotional intensity I was carrying as the fear and rage simultaneously competed for my attention. I resolved that I would have to focus on what I was going to have to do, moment by moment, day by day, to keep my adrenaline in control and let the fear and rage play out however it would. This was imperative in order for me to be effective under any circumstances that might come down.

There was a great deal of discussion among all as we ate a late breakfast back at camp. Our spirits were low. Charl, Ken, Boniface and I went out hunting the rest of the day. It gave our minds a rest from the lion's challenge. This tactic helped lift our depressed state, because it stimulated Charl to devise yet another new strategy: We would make a major change in the blind location, hang completely fresh bait and leave it vacant for a day or two. We felt that possibly the man-eater would get comfortable after not being disturbed in the presence of the new object in a ‘new’ location. Our trackers would build it, avoiding the possibility of the lion picking up our scent or hearing anything from inside the blind. The theory went that he would thus most probably be tempted to return the next day and to repeat an unmolested dinner, assuming he took the bait, and then we would be waiting for him upon his return. Charl decided that we should move far away to another location since the lion obviously knew we were in that area. The site selected was about 2-1/2 miles from the Lupande near two water holes where the lion had been seen drinking in the past. It was only a few hundred feet from the nearest of a large group of thatched roofed huts.




While wearily driving between points, out of curiosity, I asked Charl: "Oh, by the way, what about that elephant last night?" With resignation, he replied, "That was bad. If he'd caught our scent he would have stomped." A deadly situation, yet neither of us had been phased by it. Nothing else now mattered except our adversary. Everything else was incidental. We saw lion here, lion there, everywhere a man-eating lion. He was the center of our thoughts, actions, and the shaping of our attitudes.

Charl also said something that proved to be a most accurate prediction: he felt that since this lion was extremely crafty, he would not ever permit us to see him while he was standing still. He would be moving whenever or wherever he was if he finally decided to let us see him. He told me that I should expect to have about 2.5 seconds, maybe 3 seconds, at the most, to make my shot and again, he repeated that the lion would be moving. He looked intently, searchingly into my eyes and said, "You‘ve got to make this shot Wayne. No matter what you think of it, make it. We need to take this lion". I replied: "I'll make the shot". We agreed that when the time came, I would shoot and Charl would be ready for a follow up immediately with his .458 regardless of any follow-up shot by me. Where, when, under what circumstances, who could guess or know.

The next day the new blind was built on level ground and brand new bait was hung on a tree about 60 yards away. Young village boys stood barefoot watching us, asking many questions while we worked. I took a picture of 4 of them in a group posing while holding my .308. It was heart –rendering. The oldest, a 14 year-old had only one arm. We also were given more news of our man-eater: the day before, he had tried to pounce on an unsuspecting 14 year old boy living nearby who, while visiting a wait-a-bush, heard a noise in the bushes as the lion stalked him. Without a second thought, he turned and sprinted back to his home in a heated race with the big cat. Somehow he beat him to his roundoval by a few seconds. He had literally slammed the door in the lion's face! The time was about 4:30 PM. The lion hung around as the barricaded neighbors shouted and made whatever noises they could to try to drive him away. A large number of people now knew the lion on sight. He was without a mane, a fact already accepted by us.




TO BE CONTINUED
...

 


 

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