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Conservation biology

Lion attacks on humans in Tanzania

Understanding the timing and distribution of attacks on rural communities will help to prevent them.


Large carnivores inspire opposition to conservation efforts1,2 owing to their impact on livestock3,4,5 and human safety6,7. Here we analyse the pattern of lion attacks over the past 15 years on humans in Tanzania, which has the largest population of lions in Africa8,9, and find that they have killed more than 563 Tanzanians since 1990 and injured at least 308. Attacks have increased dramatically during this time: they peak at harvest time each year and are most frequent in areas with few prey apart from bush pigs (Potamochoerus larvatus), the most common nocturnal crop pest. Our findings provide an important starting point for devising strategies to reduce the risk to rural Tanzanians of lion attacks.

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Figure 1: Analysis of the number of lion attacks on humans.
Figure 2: Makeshift hut in Rufiji district.

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Correspondence to Craig Packer.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Packer, C., Ikanda, D., Kissui, B. et al. Lion attacks on humans in Tanzania. Nature 436, 927–928 (2005).

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