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Tsavo Lions: Current Research

The three lions on display at The Field Museum were all notorious man-eaters during their lifetimes. Field Museum Scientist Bruce Patterson and his team study lions in current-day Tsavo (Kenya) to learn more about this mysterious animal.

Current Research

In the 1990s, Assistant Collections Manager Tom Gnoske and Adjunct Curator Julian Kerbis began researching the back story of the lions of Tsavo and in 1996 discovered the cave that Col. Patterson had christened the "Man-eaters' Den." MacArthur Curator Bruce Patterson (no relation to the Col.) began ecological studies of Tsavo lions in 1999 and headed the Earthwatch Institute's Lions of Tsavo project until 2009. All three Museum researchers continue their studies of lions amidst other responsibilities.

Field Museum Scientist Publications

  • Celesia, G. G., Peterson, A. T., Peterhans, J. C. K. & Gnoske, T. P. 2010. "Climate and Landscape Correlates of African Lion (Panthera leo) Demography." African Journal of Ecology 48: 58-71.
  • Dubach, J. M., Briggs, M. B., White, P. A., Ament, B. A. & Patterson, B. D. 2013. "Genetic perspectives on 'Lion Conservation Units' in Eastern and Southern Africa." Conservation Genetics 14: 741-755.
  • Dubach, J. M., Patterson, B. D., Briggs, M. B., Venzke, K., Flammand, J., Stander, P., Scheepers, L. & Kays, R. W. 2005. "Molecular Genetic Variation Across the Southern and Eastern Geographic Ranges of the African Lion, Panthera leo." Conservation Genetics 7: 15-24.
  • Gnoske, T. P., Celesia, G. G. & Peterhans, J. C. K. 2006. "Dissociation between Mane Development and Sexual maturity in lions (Panthera leo): solution to the Tsavo riddle?" Journal of Zoology 270: 551-560.
  • Kays, R. W. & Patterson, B. D. 2002. "Mane Variation in African Lions and its Social Correlates." Canadian Journal of Zoology  80: 471-478.
  • Kerbis Peterhans, J. C. & Gnoske, T. P. 2002. "The Science of 'Man-Eating' among Lions Panthera leo with a Reconstruction of the Natural History of the 'Man-Eaters of Tsavo'." Journal of East African Natural History 90  ["2001"]: 1-40.
  • Kerbis Peterhans, J. C. , Kusimba, C. M., Gnoske, T. P., Andanje, S. A. & Patterson, B. D. 1998. "Man-Eaters of Tsavo." Natural History 107, 12-14.
  • Kusimba, C. M., Kerbis Peterhans, J. C., Gnoske, T. P. & Patterson, B. D. 1998. Excavations of the 'Man-Eaters' Cave', Tsavo, Kenya. Indianapolis IN: Eli Lilly Foundation.
  • Neiburger, E. J. & Patterson, B. D. 2000. "The Man-Eaters with Bad Teeth." New York State Dental Journal 66: 26-29 + cover.
  • Neiburger, E. J. & Patterson, B. D.  2000. "Man Eating Lions…A Dental Link." Journal of the American Association of Forensic Dentists 24:1-3.
  • Neiburger, E. J. & Patterson, B. D. 2002. "A Forensic Dental Determination of Serial Killings by Three African Lions." General Dentistry 50: 40-42.
  • Packer, C., Loveridge, A., Canney, S., Caro, T., Garnett, S. T., Pfeifer, M., Zander, K. K., Swanson, A., Macnulty, D., Balme, G., Bauer, H., Begg, C. M., Begg, K. S., Bhalla, S., Bissett, C., Bodasing, T., Brink H., Burger, A., Burton, A. C., Clegg, B., Dell, S., Delskink, A., Dickerson, T., Dloniak, S. M., Druce, D., Frank, L., Funston, P., Gichohi, N., Groom, R., Hanekom, C., Heath, B., Hunter, L., Deiongh, H. H., Joubert, C. J., Kasiki, S. M., Kissiui, B., Knocker, W., Leathem, B., Lindsey, P. A., Maclennan, S. D., MCNutt, J. W., Miller, S. M., Naylor, S., Nel, P., Ng'weno, C., Nicholls, K., Ogutu, J. O., Okot-omoya, E., Patterson, B. D., Plumptre, A., Salerno, J., Skinner, K., Slotwow, R., Sogbohossou, E. A., Stratford, K. J., Winterbach, C., Winterbach, H. & Polasky, S. 2013. "Conserving Large Carnivores: Dollars and Fence." Ecology Letters 16: 635-641.
  • Patterson, B. D. 2001. "Prides: The Lions of Moremi [review]." Journal of Mammalogy 82: 248-250.
  • Patterson, B. D. 2004. "Fatal Attraction: a Predilection for Livestock Threatens Tsavo's Lions." Earthwatch Institute Australia Supporter Journal April-May: 6-7.
  • Patterson, B. D. 2004. The Lions of Tsavo: Exploring the Legacy of Africa's Notorious Man-Eaters, New York, McGraw-Hill.
  • Patterson, B. D.  2004. "Maneless and Misunderstood." Earthwatch Institute 23(2): 12-15.
  • Patterson, B. D. . 2005. "Living with Lions in Tsavo, or Some Notes on Managing Man-Eaters." Travel News & Lifestyle - East Africa 129: 28-31 + cover.
  • Patterson, B. D. 2007. "The Meaning of Manes." Hunting Insight Africa 9: 41-45.
  • Patterson, B. D. 2007. "On the Nature and Significance of Variability in Lions ( Panthera leo)." Evolutionary Biology 34: 61-71.
  • Patterson, B. D. 2012. "The Man-Eating Lions of Tsavo and the Science behind the Killings." Open Skies April: 84-93.
  • Patterson, B. D. & Kasiki, S. M. 2003. "Expedition Briefing: Lions of Tsavo." Earthwatch Institute, Maynard, Massachusetts, 30 pp + appendices.
  • Patterson, B. D., Kasiki, S. M., Selempo, E. & Kays, R. W. 2004. "Livestock Predation by Lions (Panthera leo) and Other Carnivores on Ranches Neighboring Tsavo National Parks, Kenya." Biological Conservation 119: 507-516.
  • Patterson, B. D., Kays, R. W., Kasiki, S. M. & Sebestyen, V. M. 2006. "Developmental Effects of Climate on the Lion's Mane (Panthera leo)." Journal of Mammalogy, 87: 193-200 + cover.
  • Patterson, B. D.  & Neiburger, E. J. 2001. "Lion with a Sore Tooth." Nature Australia 26: 12.
  • Patterson, B. D. , Neiburger, E. J. & Kasiki, S. M. 2003. "Tooth Breakage and Dental Disease as Causes of Carnivore-Human Conflicts." Journal of Mammalogy 84: 190-196.
  • Patterson, B. D. , Yamaguchi, N., Dubach, J. M. & York, D. 2005. "Molecular Genetics and Morphological Variation of Lions (Panthera leo). " African Lion Newsletter 6: 17-23.
  • Peterson, A. T., Radocy T., Hall, E., Kerbis Peterhans,, J. C. & Celesia, G. G. 2014. "The Potential Distribution of the Vulnerable African Lion Panthera leo in the Face of Changing Global Climate." Oryx: 1-10.
  • Yeakel, J. D., Patterson B. D., Fox-Dobbs, K., Okumura, M. M., Cerling, T. E., Moore, J. W., Koch, P. L. & Dominy, N. J. 2009. "Cooperation and individuality among man-eating lions." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 106: 19040-19043 + cover.

Expedition to Tsavo

© The Field Museum, GN91293d, Photographer Leonard Russo. Bruce Patterson, taken in Tsavo [Africa] on Taita ranch during an Earthwatch expedition.

Tom Gnoske and Julian Kerbis outside "Man-eaters' Den," the cave they rediscovered in Tsavo.