Coordinates: 02°58′00″S 38°28′00″E / 2.96667°S 38.46667°E / -2.96667; 38.46667
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Countryside at Tsavo, early 1950s

Tsavo is a region of Kenya located at the crossing of the Uganda Railway over the Tsavo River, close to where it meets the Athi-Galana-Sabaki River.[1] Two national parks, Tsavo East and Tsavo West are located in the area.

The meaning of the word Tsavo is still unclear, but because of tribal conflicts, the Kamba people used to refer to the region as the place of "slaughter". Until the British put an end to the slave trade in the late 19th century, Tsavo was continually crossed by caravans of trans-Saharan slave traders and their captives.

Cultural background[edit]

Tsavo has many myths and legends such as The ghosts of Tsavo, which tells of two brothers, The one of the Ghost, and the other of The Darkness. It was said that these brothers will forever be reincarnated as two lions.

The Ghost and the Darkness[edit]

This was a 1996 movie written about The Tsavo Man-eaters, who reigned in this region from March to December 1898. They didn't eat humans out of necessity, so why they truly massacred hundreds of construction workers is unknown. Possible causes are as listed: Theories for the man-eating behaviour of lions have been reviewed by Peterhans and Gnoske, as well as Dr. Bruce D. Patterson (2004). Their discussions include the following:

An alternative argument indicates that the first lion had a severely damaged tooth that would have compromised its ability to kill natural prey. However, this theory has been generally disregarded by the general public, and Colonel Patterson, who killed the lions, personally disclaimed it, saying that he damaged that tooth with his rifle while the lion charged him one night, prompting it to flee.

Studies indicate that the lions ate humans as a supplement to other food, as a last resort. Eating humans was probably an alternative to hunting or scavenging due to dental disease and/or a limited number of prey.

A 2017 study carried out by the team of Dr. Bruce Patterson found that one of the lions had an infection at the root of his canine tooth, which made it hard for that particular lion to hunt. Lions normally use their jaws to grab prey like zebras and wildebeests and suffocate them.


Typical flora of the region includes:

Typical fauna of the region includes:

Native human inhabitants:

  • The Waata, a bow-hunting people

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Patterson, B. D. (2004). The Lions of Tsavo: Exploring the Legacy of Africa's Notorious Man-Eaters. McGraw-Hill. p. 29. ISBN 0-07-136333-5.


02°58′00″S 38°28′00″E / 2.96667°S 38.46667°E / -2.96667; 38.46667