Man-Eating Prides

Video highlights from Big Cat Week



•    Located in East Africa, Tanzania is a land of geographical extremes; it has the highest peak – Mount Kilimanjaro, the lowest point – the lakebed of Lake Tanganyika, and the largest lake – Lake Victoria, on the continent.

•    Tanzania remains one of the poorest countries in the world, with many of its people living below the World Bank poverty line.

Tanzanian lions

•    Tanzania has the largest population of lions of all the countries in the continent.


•    Tanzania supports between one-quarter and one-half of the world’s lion population.


•    Lions are the only big cats to live in groups, known as prides.  They rely extensively on group co-operation.

•    Only males develop thick woolly manes on the neck and shoulders.  The mane protects the lion during fights with other males, and is also an indicator of fitness.

•    Lions are the only cats to have a mane, suggesting it is linked to their unusual social system.  They are also the only cat to have a tuft at the end of their tail.

•    Female lions are the pride’s primary hunters, often working as a team.  Their main prey consists of antelope, zebra, wildebeest and other large animals of the open grasslands.

Human-Animal Conflict

•    Worldwide, over 200 people are killed every year by dangerous animals, about one third assumed to be by lions.

•    The most notorious outbreaks of man-eating by lions occurred in the Njombe district of Tanzania.  Over 1500 people were killed between 1932 and 1946.


•    In the Rufiji region of Tanzania, 40 people were killed between 2002 and 2004.

•    Man-eating outbreaks are common in areas where the prey base has been decimated by poaching and loss of habitat to agriculture.  

•    There is a link between the incidence of man-eating and rainfall.  When the rainy season comes, and the prey animals disperse, lion attacks on people are more common.  

Fighting back

•    In Lindi, Southern Tanzania, Selemani Ngongwechile found his wife’s half-eaten body, then laced it with poison and set it out as a trap to kill the lions that had taken her life.

•    Bush pigs lure lions to homesteads where they attack farmers.  Researchers have advised farmers to clear their land of bush pigs to reduce the number of clashes between lions and local people.

•    Dairen Simpson is one of the world’s best known wild-animal trappers.  He’s captured hundreds of lions, leopards, hyenas and jackals in Africa and two dozen other species in North and South America.


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