These are the stuffed remains of the Tsavo lions. They are not truly
representative of the animals, each of which was over 9 feet long. The
hides had been used as rugs for 25 years before being mounted.
You probably have seen the 1996 movie starring Val Kilmer and Michael Douglas, entitled "The Ghost and the Darkness." It's based on a true life story about two man-eating lions which attacked and killed 135 railroad workers during a nine month period in 1898-1899. Another movie was also based on the terror. It was the first full length color 3-D film, Bwana Devil, starring Robert Stack.
Here is a photo taken of one of the first maneaters Colonel Patterson killed. Unlike the lions of the movie, both males had no manes, as was common in that part of Africa.
Is there historical basis for "The Ghost and the Darkness?" Some have suggested that the movie is like "Jaws," a movie loosely based on historical events (Mattewan Shark attacks). In truth, "The Ghost and the Darkness" is very close to history, the biggest difference being that Michael Douglas's character simply did not exist.
Great Britain was building a railroad to consolidate its African colonies. France and Germany were likewise trying to strengthen their colonies in the Dark Continent, something which would lead to World War I. An Irish engineer, John Patterson, was given the task of building a railroad bridge across Uganda's "Tsavo" river. Ironically, "Tsavo" is Swahili for "Place of Slaughter." What a coincidence! Indian and African workers toiled hard, and many died from accidents and disease. Often times, their bodies were not properly buried, so predators and scavengers followed the railway's construction. Two lions found their prey so plentiful that they hunted men for sport! Thus came their names, "The Ghost and the Darkness."
In Patterson's account, as depicted in the 97 movie, he found a cave with human remains. Patterson saw it as a trophy den. There is some scientific debate over whether it may have actually been a disturbed burial ground, but the site was was rediscovered a few years ago. It, too, was fact.
You can read online Patterson's novel, "The Maneaters of Tsavo and other East African Adventures," by Clicking Here.
There is an interesting page from the Field Museum in Chicago, complete with photographs of their exhibit which shows the lions (stuffed of course).
This is a photo of another maneless maneater, The Lion of Mfuwe,
killed in 1991. The taxidermy was much better than that of the
TV? They must have read my mind!!!
Val Kilmer plays Colonel John Patterson. Is that a Mauser he is holding?
Scared?? You betcha!
The scene where Patterson's borrowed rifle misfires when he is face-to-face with one of the lions actually happened! At least, he wrote it was borrowed and misfired! I'll take his word for it. I'm not sure what type of rifle he used. In his novel he mentioned his ".303 rifle," and he said he used his "heavy rifle" to kill the first lion. He used his "double smooth-bore ... charged with slug" to shoot the second. He also fired his "magazine rifle" at it, which was apparently the same gun as his .303. Could it have been an Enfield? He used yet another firearm to kill the second lion, a carbine which fired a Martini bullet. have to admit, I don't know what forearms were used, just a lot of them! The second lion was one tough SOB!
Another scene where he fell from a shooting platform after an owl flew into him also happened, but he landed on his feet, never losing balance.
It was probably scarier for him in real life than in the movie, since the movie character had a world-reknowned professional hunter watching over him.
Here is one of many web pages devoted to the film - Ghost and the Darkness.
I found an interesting article about firearms used to hunt big cats. It discussed Pattersons' choice of weapons:
"Col. Patterson, when trying to deal with the Man-eaters of Tsavo in 1898 (the hero of Ghost & The Darkness if you saw it) tried both a l2g shot gun loaded with slugs and a 12g rifle loaded with solids. He shot the one lion at a range of a couple of feet when it was trying to climb on to his pole platform (basha) with a 12g shotgun loaded with slugs. The lion pushed off, but when Patterson finally killed it 10 days later (using a .303) he found both slugs stuck just under the skin. He later tried a l2g double rifle. A lion charged, his first shot, a solid, went in under the eye and lodged in the lion's back leg. His second shot was a soft, and this failed to penetrate the muscles on the chest. Patterson only survived because his gun bearer broke and fled at this point and the lion turned on him, giving Patterson a chance to get his .303 into action." A Guide to Rifle Choice for Dangerous Game.
The article criticized the use of shotguns in big cat hunting. I'm still not certain the .303 was an Enfield, but another one does. The Newby's Treatise on Enfield Rifles says that, "Col. Patterson bagged both of the Tsavo Man Eating lions with his trusty .303 SMLE!" Of course, by SMLE, he was referring to the Short Magazine Lee Enfield rifle, maybe the Mark I?
Railroad car trap built by Patterson to capture lions.
That's interesting. According to Patterson's account, the train car deal didn't work. The workers panicked, as in the movie, but there was no fire.
I figured they were losing a worker every three days to lion attacks, so maybe they should have hired a professional hunter, or several of them? In any event, Patterson used an Enfield, a double barrel (shotgun?), and some sort of pistol.
Dunno about the guns, but if they examine the bones, they can quickly determine whether it was a burial site or trophy room. Look for gnaw marks.
I read the bones were gone when the cave was rediscovered (after 100 years). The impression made upon Colonel Carpenter was the den was used as a trophy room. As an experienced hunter, I imagine he would have noticed an absence of gnaw marks on the bones he saw, so maybe we should take his word over the speculation of scientists a century afterwards?
So does anyone know what pistol he used?
Article I read said that when the jaws of the lions were examined (the jaws are in the Smithsonian) both of the lions had horrible teeth, cracked teeth and abcesses. One of the reasons why they might have started or developed a taste for hunting humans. We are pretty soft animals and wouldn't hurt their teeth as much as eating a zebra or gazelle.
I've reviewed the Colonel's novel. You would think he would be more descriptive about the weapons he used to hunt down lions which were hunting him. So far, it appears he used:
British Martini-Henry Carbine Rifle
A Martini carbine rifle. This was not likely the .303 rifle he mentioned. In one passage, he wrote that he shot one lion in the chest with a .303 from 20 yards without putting it down, so he reached for his "Martini carbine."
... Jesus, he shot a lion in the chest with a .303 from 20 yards without putting it down!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
My conclusion is Patterson first shot the lion with a .303 Short Magazine Lee Enfield Rifle without sufficient effect. There were Martini .303 carbines, but his novel suggested he needed a heavier rifle, which probably fired a "short chamber round with a .577 Snider base necked to .45in. It contained an 85 grain charge behind a 480 grain bullet. Here is an illustration of that Martini round:
Martini bullet, probably like the one used by Colonel Patterson
See, Martini Henry Drawn Case
The Martini .577 base necked round was one big, honkin' monster, practically three inches long (2.98 inches). It weighed 480 grams (the charge was 85 grams). It could put a hurting on a big cat.
The Colonel also used a "12 bore shotgun," which fired both .450 hard and soft rounds. I'm not sure what that means. So, it appears three of his guns were: (1) Short Magazine Lee Enfield Rifle, (2) hammerless British Martini-Henry rifle, and an unidentified (3) 12 bore shotgun.
Although the movie showed him firing a pistol, I could find no reference to using one in his own written account.
This may have been Patterson's pistol
If he had a pistol, chances are it was a .455 Webley revolver. That is based more on the era and Patterson being an Irishman working on a British railroad.
The first Webley revolver had been officially adopted for Royal Army & navy service in 1887, as a Webley Revolver, .455, Mark I. It was a break-top, six shoot, double action revolver, chambered for blackpowder .455 British Service cartridge, officially known as Cartridge .455 revolver, Mark I. This cartridge launched heavy, 18 gramms (265 grains) lead bullet at relatively slow muzzle velocity of 180 meters/second (ca. 600 fps). Later, smokeless version of this cartridge had been adopted, but since it also could be fired in early revolvers, the gain in the velocity or muzzle energy was very minor. Webley top-break revolvers (Great Britain).
Here is the ammo it fired.
.455 Webley Automatic
This photo shows the monstrous Martini bullet compared with other rounds of the day (far right):
Left to right: 45-70 and 44-40 for the Winchester rifles, .303 (Mk V military hollow point), 7x57 Mauser, .450 No 2 Musker, .461 Gibbs, .500 BP Express, .577/450 Martini-Henry.
Man, they fired some BIG, honkin' bullets back then!
The second lion was like the Terminator, almost impossible to kill. Colonel Patterson first hit it in the chest with a .303 from 20 yards, then again with another .303 round as it ran into the brush. When he went after it, the lion charged Patterson. He shot it a third time with his .303 and knocked it down, but the beast got back up and chased Patterson up a tree, a fourth .303 shot having no apparent effect. Patterson got his Martini Carbine and felled the big cat with one shot. He approached the lion, thinking it must be dead, but it sprang up again and began another charge which was stopped with a second Martini bullet to the chest, and a third one to the head. Patterson wrote the lion "died gamely, biting savagely at a branch which had fallen to the ground." Upon examination, it had six gun shot wounds from the encounter, plus another one from ten dsayds before. That much lead could have poisoned the animal to death! Hey, who said cats had nine lives anyway?
the martini was only for the first of the 3 man eaters he killed it was a maritni metford in 303
Ghost was killed by a british custom rifle similiar to a Ruger model 1 and darkness was killed by two shots from a sawed off shot gun after being wounded with the same rifle
check the diaries or man eaters of tsavo from safari press
Martini Metford, a self cocking, single-shot, hammerless rifle
See, M1871 - M1889 British Martini-Henry Marks I-IV
I respectfully disagree, though I welcome your input. I read Colonel Patterson's written account, "THE MAN-EATERS OF TSAVO AND Other East African Adventures," first published in 1907. You can read it online for free at: Maneaters of Tsavo. I also copied the entire novel and pasted it into my word processor, so I could do term searches. Nowhere was "Martini Metford," nor even "Metford" mentioned. Heck, not even "Enfield" was in the account! So, it requires a bit of educated guesses to figure out what firearms were used. It's clear that the .303 rifle was a "magazine" rifle, and as you can see above, the Martini Metford was not.
Colonel Patterson's account does mention his "Martini" rifle." He used it to kill the Darkness. Patterson first fired four rounds at the beast with his ".303," then after being chased up a tree, changed rifles. He got his "Martini rifle" and shot the lion 3 more times. The animal had six bullet wounds, and another wound from a shotgun blast Patterson fired ten days earlier. See, Chapter IX, The Death of the Second Maneater.
Patterson also mentions a "heavy rifle." The one that misfired when he was 15 yards from the Ghost had two barrels, so that eliminates Martini rifles, as well as an Enfield. My guess is it was an "Express Rifle," which fired very big rounds, .577 I believe. Patterson wrote that he hit the lion with a shot from the second barrel of the borrowed gun before the lion disappeared into the brush. Later, he hit and killed the maneater with another shot from an unnamed "rifle," which most likely was not the borrowed Express Rifle, which he had already discarded as defective. MY guess is he probably used his Martini rifle firing a honkin' big Martini .577/450, but there is a sentence which leads me to believe he may have used his magazine rifle:
"I kept blazing away in the direction in which I heard him plunging about. At length came a series of mighty groans, gradually subsiding into deep sighs, and finally ceasing altogether; and I felt convinced that one of the "devils" who had so long harried us would trouble us no more."
This is the tree from which Patterson killed the first beast
See, Chapter VIII, The Death of The First Man-Eater.
I would think it easier to "blaze away" with a magazine rifle, like an Enfield. My guess is he used a Lee-Metford Rifle Mk II:
Lee-Metford Rifle Mk II
Adopted in November 1895, it is a 'Lee' designed action with an 'Enfield Rifled' barrel. See, REME MUSEUM of TECHNOLOGY
I'm certain the .303 magazine rifle Patterson wrote about was a Lee Metford Enfield rifle. It was Britain's first general service repeating rifle, accepted into service in December 1888. It was a bolt action rifle, with .303 caliber Metford rifling, and an eight shot box magazine.
My best guess is his "heavy rifle" was the Martini to which he often referred, firing honkin' big .577/450 rounds. He also used an unidentified shotgun and an unidentified, borrowed double barreled Express Gun, probably firing powerful .577 rounds.
Here is a photo taken of the first lion's head shortly after it was killed:
Not a full mouth of teeth, but deadly enough!
Just a note, the .303 from the Metford used a compressed blackpowder load which didn't generate nearly the velocity of the later cordite loadings.. .303 ballistics were pretty poor at that point.