Lunatic Express & Man-Eaters of Tsavo
What is it all about the man eaters of Tsavo and the lunatic express? What exactly happened in Tsavo that led to the creation of a legend and a movie with Michael Douglas?
The construction of the railway line across deepest Africa was never easy if you fancy the man eaters in Tsavo. The railway line connecting from Nairobi to Mombasa passed via Tsavo great plains across Tsavo river a life-threatening task that quelled after nine months in the wilderness.
Two giant male lions started to attack the railway line builders at night as they slept in their tents and this lasted for long from March to December however much defensive measures and traps were out in place. And many of the workers left the job in a way of saving their lives and at this time, the construction process came at a standstill until when they had to apply the power of a gun by Lt Col John Patterson- the construction project leader who shut both lions t death that work had to resume.
The fossils of these mane-less lions still exist in Chicago Field Museum and the shutting these brutal lions was written about in the book titled “The Man-Eaters of Tsavo” published b Patterson in 1907.
Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas starred in “The Ghost and the Darkness” one of the three movies that were made about this story. No one is sure about how many workers were killed by the lion but according to the writings of Patterson, people who were killed must have exceeded 40 and can as well exceed 100 people.
It is anticipated that because of the spark off of animal diseases like rinderpest which led to death of many animals like buffalos, cattle other wildlife in in Tsavo in 1898 and others factors that are related to habitat can compel lions to scavenge. This could have been the cause in Tsavo where lions took opportunity of death of people. At the time slave trad was still in Africa, many people would die and corpses were poorly buried and some trail of bodies would be left behind in wake of slave caravans. This could have been a factor in that, these lions could have tasted on the human meat and this could have been the cause for Man eater legend.
The Lunatic Express
The Lunatic express was a name invented in 1970`s by an author called Charles Miller referring to the railway line of Uganda and Kenya that started in Mombasa in 1896 and ended in Kampala in 1903. However, without the troubles of the railway construction and the loses that seemed to stick, the railway ended up fulfilling its function and even opened up trade and tourism. This railway line is till in use today from Mombasa to Nairobi and Nairobi to Kampala in Uganda.