It was with much surprise that I learnt of the planned return of the legendary Tsavo man-eaters to their original home in Taita Taveta County – at least what is left of them.
The lion mounts have been dazzling museum-goers for decades at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, USA from where they shall make a historical homecoming journey, nearly a century and a half later, after they wreaked havoc in what is today known as Tsavo West National Park.
The ferocious felines that have now acquired legendary status, especially with the release of the 1996 blockbuster, ‘The Ghost and the Darkness’, traumatised railway line builders for 9 months in 1898, nearly jeopardising a historical engineering event in the country.
By the time they were killed by one Colonel John Henry Patterson who was then overseeing the project, the deadly duo had managed to devour over 100 victims. This number is now disputed and thought to have been far lower.
What is even more surprising is the fact that this planned homecoming of the man-eaters takes place at exactly the same time the very event that made them famous in the first place is repeating itself.
The much-talked-about 472 KM Standard Gauge Railway line (SGR) that will replace the old notorious ‘lunatic line’ is now under construction.
The lunatic line, back in the day, had claimed many deaths during its construction, hence its name. More than 2,000 workers, mostly Indian, died from lion attacks and disease.
Strangely, the technical camp for the new SGR team is located at the very spot near Tsavo River where the man-eating spree took place over a century ago! The river is a popular watering hole for other big cats like cheetahs and leopards.
The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has already warned of the impending danger the 30,000-plus workers face working in the area, especially at night – the place is practically a wildlife area.
Already one casualty has been reported when the night duty watchman guarding the company’s trucks was badly attacked by a nursing leopard.
Is history capable of repeating itself that perfectly? As the Tsavo man-eaters travel back home, I can almost hear an eerie roar in the distance as their ghosts come to roost. Do these coincidences puzzle you?