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Authoritative take on two lethal lions

A British construction team building a bridge over the Tsavo River in Kenya in the late 1800s found itself with a distinct employee retention problem. After nine months the work crew had been reduced by nearly 140 men. The culprit wasn’t bad wages or morale, but, instead, a couple of very predatory male lions who relentlessly stalked, killed and ate each one of those hapless souls.

Patterson, a curator at the Field Museum in Chicago where the two killer cats are preserved for posterity, presents new evidence here on just why those lions may have been so lethal. Although there have been other studies on the subject (and a decent film, “The Ghost and the Darkness,” starring Val Kilmer), Patterson’s new book has to be considered the authoritative take on the incident. He examines the impact on lion behavior (and the killing of humans) of habitat encroachment, and makes a strong case for the maintenance of Africa’s national parks as critical for wildlife survival.

-- Michael Koehn


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