Friday, October 30, 2009

The Maneater of Mfuwe - horror for Halloween

I've written previously about how cats in the genus Panthera (ie lions, leopards, tigers and jaguar) are, without question, apex terrestrial predators that can, and on occasion do, kill and eat humans. This is not something new; leopards have been killing hominins for about as long as there have been hominins (numerous Australopithecus africanus fossils from Sterkfontein show evidence leopard predation) but in the modern world the thought that such a nasty brutish death remains a daily threat to many people often surprises westerners. Below then is the Maneater of Mfuwe.

the maneater of mfuwe 2

This animal is the largest recorded man-eating lion at 5 feet tall and 10 feet 6 inches long and is like two other more famous maneaters now residing in the same location a maneless male. In 1991 this animal terrorised part of Zambia killing and eating at least 6 individuals. Particularly gruesomely the animal would carry a souvenir of its last kill around for some time - a sack of the type shown at the bottom of the picture above - and play with it like a cat with a toy. Its behaviour so disturbed local people that (as with other man-eating lions we'll talk about later) it was ascribed supernatural powers and believed to be a sorcerer.

the maneater of mfuwe

Eventually it was shot and killed by an American on a hunting safari called Wayne Hosek. The resultant specimen was donated to Chicago's Field Museum where I took the pictures above. Wayne's remarkable story can be briefly read here and after reading it I'm sure you'll agree with me regarding the space and respect Panthera sp. need and deserve and be grateful you don't have to walk the plains of Zambia alone tonight.....


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your thoughtful comments, re respect for our lions. Very nice phtos indeed! Please keep up the good work.
Wayne Hosek

MoMMan said...

I missed a shotso to speak. Anonymous did not post the previous comment- I did. Please forgive the error.

Wayne Hosek

wayne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tai haku said...

Thanks for stopping by Wayne. As I noted in the post the story of your encounter with that Lion is remarkable and it deserves to be more widely known.

MoMman said...

Thank you, the book is a few days from publication! We will stay tuned until then.