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October 1st 2009

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    One night a Leopard ran off with the school dog.  The dog, if I remember, was a Labrador called Fudge, and next to his footprints in the dust, the leopard's footprints were huge.

   Domestic dog is amongst favorite food for Leopard.   Many had a memory of this or that dog that had fallen to Leopard.  And there was concern this Leopard might chose to vary its menu by carrying off one of the smaller boys.  An extreme un-likelihood in the minds of adults in whose charge we were, but considered a very strong likelihood amongst the older and larger boys.

   Inevitably for young men there is a joy to be gained from instilling fear in younger members of the clan.  As well the younger boys had been reading an account of building a bridge over the Tsavo River for the Uganda Railway line.  Work on the project had been interrupted for several months by lions carrying off labor.

 

    

    Then one night, beyond the mosquito netting that covered the junior dormitory window, there was ominous noise and scratching.  We all heard it and one of our number had the misfortune to lose composure.  His high-pitched yelling roused the school.  

    The older boys found this extremely funny.  Adults expressed deep concern, cast accusations and threats at the older boys.  And when the lights went out the junior dormitory felt foolish.  But in the morning investigation revealed the pugmarks of Leopard outside the junior dormitory window.

    Whether it was a trick perpetrated upon us by the older boys and well concealed from those in authority, I do not know.  But I do know two things.  The first is: I have always been glad I was not the child who screamed.  The second is: the "Man Eaters of Tsavo" devoured over one hundred men.

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tim candler

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(Man Eaters of Tsavo