Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Kenya presses US to return ‘man-eaters of Tsavo’

By NATION Reporter

Kenya has initiated talks aimed at bringing back the stuffed “man-eaters of Tsavo” from the US.

The two famous lions are currently mounted for display at the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois, the home town of US President Barack Obama.

“We may be forced to contact Mr Obama to help us bring home these lions,” said Heritage and Cultural minister William ole Ntimama. “But already there are diplomatic talks under way as the lions are a great part of Kenya’s heritage.”

The “man-eaters of Tsavo” were two notorious lions responsible for the deaths of a number of construction workers on the Kenya-Uganda railway line from March to December 1898.

During the construction, 135 Indian railway workers and Africans were killed by the lions, which dragged men from their tents at night and devoured them.

Thorn fences

According to historians, “the workers built thorn fences around their camp to keep the man-eaters out; but they (animals) were able to crawl through”.

Engineer John Patterson, who was leading the workers, set traps and tried several times to ambush the lions. He finally shot the first one on December 9. The second beast was killed three weeks later.

On Wednesday, during the inauguration ceremony of a new board to head the Kenya Cultural Centre, Mr Ntimama said the maneless lions would help Kenyans reconstruct their history.

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