Deadly Animals Animals Blamed for Massive Human Death
From the time man first appeared on this earth animals have provided him with the necessities of life, food, clothing, shelter, beasts of burdens, and loving companions. One can hardly think about what life would like if it not for these beasts of the ground, air, and water that provide us with so much. Yet there have been times through out history when animals have been the direct or the indirect causes of human suffering and death. Here are just a few stories of such incidents that have occurred through out history.
During the mid 1300s in Europe, rats were blamed for killing over a third of the European population who died of the black death or bubonic plague. Over a 6 year period the death toll kept rising traveling from country to county, city to city. It is no wonder that rats and their near relatives mice have been looked upon with terror by generations of people every since. However, it was not that rats that infected the people of Europe but rather another member of the animal kingdom, the flea, who hitched a ride on the rats that spread the disease from person to person wreaking havoc, fear and death.
A Pig in a Poke
Most people have heard of the feud between the Hatfield's and the McCoy's but few people are aware that the initial cause of the feud was just one little old pig. A McCoy accused a Hatfield of stealing one of his hogs and took him court and when things didn't go the way he planned all hell broke loose and the end 13 people had died and countless lives were change forever.
Birdie, birdie in the sky
There aren't many people who don't enjoy watching a bird in flight, but for those travel by air birds can pose a very real and present danger. While most bird and air plane collisions are minor for a human standpoint in 1960 a flock of starlings took down a Eastern airline commercial jet resulting in the death of 62 of the 72 passengers aboard.
I'm Not Lion
The movie the Ghost and Darkness tells a story based on a two event of two lions known as the Tsavo lions who went on a killing rampage killing workers on a railroad line. While the railroad estimated the deaths to be around 28, Patterson the man who finally killed the lions claimed they killed more than 135 people. Scientists took hair and skin samples from the lions, and later determined that the number of humans actually eaten by the lions ranged between 35 and 75 over a 9 month period.
There are two cases I feel I should mention here where animals received a bad rap for the cause of human death and suffering. The first is Mrs. O'Leary's cow who for years was sited as the cause of the Great Chicago fire that took many lives and wiped out a good portion of the city. It was later believed that a human in fact started the fire through carelessness.
The snake too has received a bad rap. When the bible talks about the serpent in the garden of Eden, people jump to the conclusion that the serpent is a snake. No where in the bible is a snake ever mentioned as the cause of Eve's fall.
While animals got the blame for these disasters, in almost all cases the problem was cause by human actions. The one exception is the lions of Tsavo. Their actions are believed to be brought about by several factors. The drought that existed in the area at the time reduced the lions natural source of food making it scarce. It has also been discovered that one of the lions had a jaw injury that would make biting through animal hide almost impossible forcing him to eat humans whose skin was easier to bite through or lick off, allowing him to eat.