Top 20 Real Life Man-Eaters



Top 20 Real Life Man-Eaters

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nick Roffey
These killer animals are not to be trifled with. For this list, we're looking at individual animals, as well as specific pairs, prides or packs, with the highest human kill counts. Our countdown includes The Mfuwe Man-Eating Lion, Sloth Bear of Mysore, Wolves of Turku, and more!

Top 20 Most Prolific Man-Eaters in History

Written by Nick Roffey

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 20 deadliest man eaters in history!

For this list, we’re looking at individual animals, as well as specific pairs, prides or packs, with the highest human kill counts.

What would you do if cornered by one of these animals? Tell us your survival plan in the comments!

#20: New Jersey Shark

Shark attacks are rare, and fatal attacks even more so. Yet sharks have an unfair reputation as voracious maneaters. The bad rap is partly thanks to the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916. That summer, a heat wave drove unprecedented crowds to the beaches. During the first two weeks of July there were five attacks along the New Jersey coast, four of them fatal. In the panic that ensued, hundreds of sharks were hunted down. Researchers still aren’t sure whether the culprit was a great white, a bull shark, or more than one animal. But the incidents changed how people saw sharks, even inspiring Peter Benchley’s novel “Jaws” and Steven Spielberg’s adaptation.

#19: Tiger of Segur

The animals on this list don’t usually prey on humans. Often, disabilities drive them to their new diet, with humans making for easier prey. Such was the case with the Tiger of Segur, a young male Bengal tiger who, according to Indian-born British hunter and writer Kenneth Anderson, killed at least five victims in the Nilgiri Hills in South India. It ate three of them, while the mangled bodies of the others were retrieved. Anderson hunted the tiger over the course of weeks, following tracks and blood trails, and spending long nights lying in wait. When he finally shot the tiger, he found that it only had one eye. There was an old gunshot slug in the other - explaining its decision to chase easier meals.

#18: The Mfuwe Man-Eating Lion

Man-eaters aren’t just terrors of the distant past. In 1991, one particular maneless lion claimed six lives in and around Mfuwe in the Luangwa Valley of eastern Zambia. Its victims ranged from boys out walking at night to women dragged from their own huts. The lion was distinguished by its massive size - measuring 10 feet long and weighing 500 pounds - and its absolute fearlessness. It once returned to a victim’s house to steal a bag of her laundry, roaring over it in the center of the village. This odd behavior led to rumors that it was really an evil spirit or sorcerer. It was finally killed by Californian hunter Wayne Hosek, after a three week wait in a hunting hide.

#17: Kesagake the Sankebetsu Brown Bear

This story seems too horrific to be true. In November 1915, an Ussuri brown bear, also known as a “black grizzly”, stole food from a farm in northwestern Hokkaido, Japan. It was shot and wounded, but on December 9 broke into another home, killing a child and dragging a woman into the forest. The next night, while the men searched for it, women and children took refuge in a nearby homestead … until the bear burst through a window and bit and clawed through the panicked residents. The attacks left six people dead, with another dying later from injuries. Initially, bear hunter Yamamoto Heikichi, who recognized the bear as the dreaded man-eater “Kesagake”, refused to help. But after this last attack, he joined the hunters and brought the bear down.

#16: Wolf of Gysinge

In the early 1820s, a lone wolf prowled the outskirts of Gysinge in central Sweden. Unlike most wolves however, it wasn’t hunting hares or deer. A few years earlier, it had been captured as a pup and kept in captivity, which may explain how it lost its natural wariness of humans. Within the span of just three months, it attacked 31 people, killing - and partially consuming - 12. With a few exceptions, its victims were aged between three-and-a-half and fifteen. It was hunted down and killed on March 27, 1821.

#15: Sloth Bear of Mysore

Don’t let the name fool you. Sloth bears walk in a slow, awkward shamble, but they can easily outrun a human. In 1957, an Indian sloth bear in the southern state of Mysore went on a killing spree that saw dozens mauled and 12 killed. It would attack its victims’ faces, clawing and biting them to shreds. Enter hunter and writer Kenneth Anderson again, whose friend begged him for help after his son was fatally attacked. It took Anderson several attempts; on one occasion, he came across a mutilated victim, barely alive, and attempted to carry him away, but sprained his ankle and had to be rescued himself. However, after lying in wait one night, he eventually succeeded in catching the bear by surprise.

#14: Tigress of Jowlagiri

We’re not done with Anderson yet. Far from it. Other infamous man-eaters he hunted include the tiger of Mundachipallam, which he shot while eating its seventh victim, and the tigress of Jowlagiri - which makes for a much sadder story. After poachers killed a tiger in southern India’s Jowlagiri Forest Range, its bereaved mate began calling outside the village. A young hunter shot the tigress, wounding it, and soon after it took its first victims, eventually killing 15. Kenneth Anderson was called in, but was outwitted while lying in wait when the tigress suddenly appeared behind him. He shot its ear off, but it escaped. He was later able to get a clearer shot by imitating a tiger call - a ruse that left him feeling troubled and sorry for the tigress.

#13: Wolves of Turku

This trio of wolves in southwest Finland terrorized the town of Turku in the early 1880s. In fact, their predations were so relentless, the national government got involved, organizing several hunts. The pack preyed on children, and some fearful souls whispered that the Antichrist had come, believing the animals’ appetites to be unnatural. Before they were hunted down, the wolves took 22 lives in all. They’re far from the only wolfpack to have hunted children. In 1981, the Wolves of Hazaribagh in eastern India killed 13; and a few years later in 1985, the Wolves of Ashta in central India killed 17.

#12: Wolves of Paris

When you think of Paris, wolves probably aren’t close associations. But the city has had several infamous incidents. In 1765, the wolf of Soissons attacked 18 people in northeast Paris, killing four. However, the most notorious attacks occurred in the winter of 1450, when a starving pack snuck through holes in the city walls, creating panic throughout Paris. The leader was a reddish wolf nicknamed Courtaud, meaning bobtail - a feature that’s led to speculation he was a wolf-hybrid or Iberian wolf. The pack killed 40 people before a band of brave residents flushed them out and into the square in front of Notre-Dame, where they were stoned and speared to death.

#11: Leopard of Gummalapur

Also known as the Spotted Devil of Gummalapur, this leopard claimed 42 victims in south western India in the mid 20th century. The animal terrorized the villages of Gummalapur and Devarabetta, to the point where people were afraid to leave their houses. But staying indoors didn’t save them either. When residents took to barricading their doors at night, it forced its way in through thatch walls. Eventually, hunter Kenneth Anderson managed to hunt it down, and discovered porcupine quills in its right forefoot - preventing it from pursuing faster prey.

#10: Tigers of Chowgarh

Man-eaters don’t always hunt alone. Known as the Tigers of Chowgarh, this Bengal tigress and her sub-adult cub reportedly killed 64 people in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand in northern India. The true number of victims may be higher - it excludes victims who were mauled and died afterwards. In 1929, famed British hunter and naturalist Jim Corbett was asked to hunt the man-eaters down. He witnessed the tigers’ carnage firsthand, tending to the wounds of a girl who’d survived an attack, but whose scalp was left “hanging in two halves”. It took him several attempts, but Corbett eventually shot and killed both tigers. He discovered that the tigress had a broken canine, worn down teeth, and broken claws - explaining her unusual change in diet.

#9: Chiengi Chali

This pale lion haunted the British outpost Chiengi in 1909, in what’s now northern Zambia. With light-colored fur and only half a tail, Chali, also known as Charlie and the White Lion, was easily recognizable. The man-eater would force its way through doorways and thatched rooftops. One woman woke to find Chali tearing through the wall of her hut, but survived after thrusting a firebrand in the lion’s face. For hunters, Chali proved an elusive catch, stealing the bait right out of traps. Eventually teaming up with two other lions, Chali was blamed for 90 deaths before a gun trap got the better of him.

#8: Leopard of the Golis Range

Little is known about this man-eater, who roamed the Golis Mountains in northwestern Somalia in the late 1800s. British big game hunter H. G. C. Swayne wrote that according to locals, it claimed more than 100 victims. A panther, with dark fur that blended into the shadows, it would lie in wait on rocks that overlooked a turn in the path - ambushing its prey from above. The region’s rough terrain made leopards difficult to track, and this man-eater’s final fate is unknown. According to English traveller James Forsyth, a panther in the Seoni district of central India came close to the same victim count. The Seoni panther was said to drink its victims blood and leave the bodies.

#7: Beast of Gévaudan

A long, tufted tail; russet fur; and a huge head full of teeth . . . what WAS the Beast of Gévaudan? This man-eater stalked the former French province of Gévaudan in the 1760s, killing an estimated 113 people. Based on descriptions, it’s believed to have been a large wolf or wolfdog, but at the time there were also fears that it was a witch or werewolf. Other theories claim it was a hyena, lion, or even a mastiff armored in boar hide. King Louis XV sent in soldiers and hunters, but the deaths only stopped after farmer Jean Chastel shot a wolf-like creature with a silver bullet in 1767.

#6: Leopard of Rudraprayag

For eight years, the people of Garhwal in northern India lived in terror of the dark thanks to this relentless man-eater. The Leopard of Rudraprayag would catch some victims outdoors at night; but that didn’t mean locals were safe at home. The leopard would break down doors, enter through windows, and even dig through mud walls - dragging people away into the dark. Official records put fatal attacks at 125. When soldiers failed to catch the leopard, Jim Corbett, the same hunter who later killed the Tigers of Chowgarh, embarked on a ten-week hunt in 1926 that brought the leopard’s reign to an end. Corbett suspected that the leopard had gotten a taste for humans from scavenging on unburied bodies after an epidemic.

#5: Tsavo Man-Eaters

This notorious pair of maneless lions has become legendary. In 1898, the duo terrorized workers building a railway bridge over Kenya’s Tsavo River. They’d drag victims right out from their tents, and for the better part of a year defied all attempts to stop them - evading hunters and jumping over thorn fences placed around the campsite. Lieutenant-Colonel John Henry Patterson, who oversaw construction, blamed them for 135 deaths - although subsequent studies have suggested he may have exaggerated. After months of attacks, Patterson himself was able to shoot and kill them. They may have turned to hunting humans after an outbreak of the virus rinderpest decimated their natural prey.

#4: Gustave

A scarred, living legend, Gustave haunts the Ruzizi River and Lake Tanganyika in Burundi. Estimated to be over 60 years old, the grizzled croc is thought to weigh a colossal 2,000 pounds. The exact number of his victims is unknown; but rumors claim he’s responsible for a staggering 300. Of course, this could be exaggerated, or the result of several animals - a common problem with reports of man-eaters. Either way, you probably wouldn’t want to get in the water with him. Eluding capture, and shrugging off bullet wounds, Gustave has attained near mythic status. He was last sighted in 2015; so today, he may actually be more “legend” than “living”.

#3: The Panar Man-Eater

In the 1900s, a prolific man-eater stalked the Kumaon Hills in northern India, reportedly killing 400 people. In 1910, Jim Corbett, who’d later hunt down the Chowgarh Tigers and the Rudraprayag Leopard, stepped in. Scouting the area, he came across a remote homestead, where the leopard had dragged a sleeping woman from her bed; her terrified husband had pulled her free, but the wounds in her throat and chest were septic. With medical aid miles away, Corbett kept watch outside through the night; but if the leopard was watching, it remained hidden; and the woman’s wounds proved fatal. Determined, Corbett returned months later, and this time succeeded - shooting the leopard as it charged, by the light of burning torches dropped by his men as they bolted. Hey, we’d be running too.

#2: Tigress of Champawat

Jim Corbett heard about the Panar Leopard while hunting an even more dangerous man-eater in 1907: the Tigress of Champawat. The tigress started killing in Nepal, evading hunters, and even the Nepalese Army - whose efforts drove her down into India’s Kumaon region. There the killing continued, reaching an estimated 436 - mostly women and children. It was one of Corbett’s earliest - and most famous - hunts. Tracking a trail of blood, he found the tigress, but was almost ambushed. The next day, he organized a beat of local villagers, who managed to drive the tigress into his sights. When he examined the body, he discovered that a gunshot had broken her canine teeth - turning her towards new prey.

#1: Lions of Njombe

Tanzania has had several notable man-eaters. In the 2000s, a lion named Osama killed at least 35 people along the Rufiji River. But Osama’s deeds pale next to those of the Lions of Njombe. Between 1932 and 1947, this pride of 15 lions in southern Tanzania was responsible for some 1,500 deaths! They were cunning, travelling to villages under the cover of darkness, and reportedly using a relay system to drag bodies back into the bush. The attacks followed the colonial government’s decision to kill thousands of zebras, giraffes, and buffalos to protect livestock from an outbreak of rinderpest. However, locals had another explanation: the lions were controlled by a witch doctor named Matamula Mangeraaa, who’d been dismissed as headman from the Iyayi village. Their reign of terror was finally brought to an end by British game warden George Rushby and his scouts.
Why are so many man-eaters on this list killed by Jim Corbett or Kenneth Andersen?
If I was cornered by any of these man-eaters I would run for my life!
Why do you always talk about who hunted the man-eaters down?