Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Man-Eaters of Tsavo, and Other East African Adventures
By Col. John Henry Patterson
Rating:  7 out of 10 stars

The Man-Eaters of Tsavo may seem like a rather strange name, but it is speaking of two famous man-eating lions which terrorized the camp of East African railroad builders, and actually brought the Government managed project to a complete halt for three weeks.  These two male maneless lions were relentless in their hunt for human prey, and killed “twenty-eight Indian coolies, besides scores of unfortunate natives of whom no official record was kept”.

    This non-fiction book also describes some of Col. Patterson’s other hunting experiences, including encounters with elephants, crocodiles, leopards, rhinoceri, and various less dangerous species, such as gazelles and zebras.  His experiences in building the Tsavo bridge and superintending the laying much of the East African railway are also briefly described, along with descriptions of several African tribes.  Altogether, this is a very interesting book, and one which gives a look at Africa under British rule at the end of the 19th century.

My thoughts:

    This is a good book overall, and conveys many interesting facts about Africa.  However, because of the graphic nature of some of the descriptions in the earlier part of the book (dealing with the Tsavo lions’ depredations on the workmen) it is not suitable in its entirety for young readers.  If read aloud, portions could be omitted and it could be a very instructive and interesting book.
    However, Col. Patterson does not seem to have been a Christian, and thus what he writes is not from a Christian perspective.  Also, it may be wise to discuss the principles of conservation with children, and explain that shooting animals simply for sport is not a wise or good use of God’s creation.  Man is to take dominion of the earth, but we are to do it in a wise manner that will subdue, yet preserve it for future generations.  It was certainly right to kill the dangerous lions which were attacking the camp, but slaughtering numbers of other animals for sport is not right, and it is good to point out this difference to children.

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