Does anyone remember this quote out of The Ghost and the Darkness? No? Then you might want to watch that movie again, because despite its quite boring trailer, it is still damn good (which is actually the opposite of today where most trailers look awesome but often the movies nevertheless suck). Anyway, due to my love for the movie, I had to read the book it is based on – J. H. Pattersons account of his overseeing the construction of the railway and some bridges in Africa which came to a standstill in 1898 because of two lions, who kept attacking the camps and continually ate some of the workers.
First of all, I was quite surprised, that the whole episode with the two man-eating lions takes place within the first 80 pages of the book and Patterson actually doesn’t make a big deal out of it. The rest of the book is filled with various observations on animals, tribes and the landscape which is really fascinating to read (despite the fact that he practically shoots or tries to shoot every animal he sees). From a contemporary point of view the exploitation of Africas nature, wildlife and people seems of course quite disgusting and I am glad, that those ‘good old times’ are over.
But even despite Pattersons clear attitude of superiority his notes are nevertheless filled with moments of self-mockery and humour which makes The Man-Eaters of Tsavo an exciting read and – oddly enough for me as an avid animal rights activist – it makes you sympathise with Patterson.