Top 10 Worst Man Eaters In History

By TYB / Listverse

Most large predatory animals can, and will, see humans as suitable prey, under the right circumstances; however, true “man eaters”, that is, individual animals that prefer human flesh over any other food, are very rare. This list is a selection of some of the worst cases of man eaters recorded in history.

The lions of Njombe

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We start this list with the worst case of man-eating lions in History. It was not a single man eater, but an entire pride that preferred human flesh over any other kind of food. It happened in 1932, in Tanzania near the town of Njombe. A large pride of lions went into a particularly brutal killing spree. Legend has it that the lions were being controlled by the witch doctor of a local tribe, named Matamula Mangera, who sent them into rampage as revenge against his own people after being deposed of his post. The tribesmen were so terrified of the man-eating lions that they wouldn’t even dare speaking of them, believing that a simple mention would cause them to appear. They begged to the tribe chief to restore the witch doctor to his post, but he refused. The lions kept attacking and, eventually, took over 1,500 human lives (some say over 2000); the worst lion attack in History, and one of the worst cases of animal attacks ever recorded. Eventually, George Rushby, a famed hunter, decided to put an end to the attacks. He killed 15 lions, and the rest of the pride eventually abandoned the area, finally ending the nightmare. But, of course, the locals were convinced that the lions left only because the tribe’s chief finally agreed to restore Matamula Mangera to his old job.

Two Toed Tom

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Two Toed Tom is a rather obscure man-eater, and today it is hard to know which parts of his story are real, and which ones are myth. This huge male American alligator was said to roam the swamps in the border of Alabama and Florida during the 20s. He had lost all but two of the toes in his left “hand”, and left very recognizable tracks on the mud, so he was nicknamed “Two Toed Tom” by the local people. He was said to have lost his toes in an iron trap.

He measured four and a half meters long, and people claimed he was no normal gator, but a demon sent from Hell to terrorize them. Tom made himself infamous by devouring scores of cows, mules and, of course, humans, particularly women (snatched as they washed clothes in the water). Due to his frequent attacks, many farmers tried to kill Tom, but bullets were said to have little effect on him and all attempts on his life failed. One farmer even tried to kill him using dynamite; the farmer had been chasing Tom for twenty years, unsuccessfully, so he decided to throw fifteen dynamite-filled buckets into the pond were Tom was supposed to live, and finally get rid of the problem once and for all.

The explosion killed everything in the pond, but not Tom. Moments after the explosion, the farmer and his son heard a horrible scream and splashing sounds coming from a nearby pond. They rushed to the place and saw Tom’s bright eyes for a moment before he disappeared under the surface. The screams were later explained when the half eaten remains of the farmer’s young daughter appeared in the shore. It is impossible to know whether this particular story was true or simply a folk tale, but everything seems to indicate that Two Toed Tom was real, and that he continued to roam the swamps of Florida for many years. People would constantly report seeing a huge male gator basking in lake shores, and hearing his roars every morning. They identified him as Tom by the two toed tracks he left in the sand and the mud. The most amazing part of the story is that, although he was most famous during the 20s, Tom was seemingly still alive during the 80s, when a huge gator lacking two of his toes was reported in the same swamps where he had roamed his entire life. Many hunts for the living legend were organized, but Two Toed Tom was never captured.

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