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The story of the ‘Man-eaters of Tsavo’ has been retold through script, cinema, and oral tradition in the 100 years since their infamous ‘reign of terror’. Despite their predictably broad popular appeal, the details pertaining to the natural history of these lions Panthera leo have never been reviewed. The skulls and skins of these lions have resided at the Field Museum of Natural History (Chicago) for over 75 years. An analysis of the skull of the primary culprit displays a traumatic injury that may have limited his predatory ability in subduing ‘normal’ prey. A sample of hairs, reflecting the diet of both man-eaters, is preserved in the broken and exposed cavities of their canines. Various additional circumstances likely contributed to their man-eating habit. The Tsavo incident closely followed the debut of rinderpest on the continent, which devastated cattle and buffalo, the primary prey of the Tsavo lion. The Tsavo ‘nyika’ consists of a dense thorn scrub thicket limiting visibility and passage, representing an ideal habitat for an ‘ambush predator’. Finally, historical review of the literature reveals that ‘man-eating’ was not an isolated incident at Tsavo. This behaviour was well established in the vicinity of the railway bridge well before these infamous lions appeared, and continued well after their demise, suggesting a recurring opportunity, which may have evolved into a local behavioural tradition. In sum, virtually all of the recognised preconditions for man-eating outbreaks to occur were in effect at Tsavo in the 1890's.
A checklist of the fishes of Rwanda is given. Currently 82 species belonging to 12 families are known from Rwandese waters. With at least 37 species, cichlids are by far the largest fish family in the country followed by Cyprinidae, Mormyridae and Mochokidae, respectively represented by 24, six and four species. The other eight families are represented by one or two species only. The presence of at least 12 species is the result of introductions by man. The list includes the general distribution of each species in Rwanda, common English names and local Kinyarwanda names, annotations referring to introductions, distribution and taxonomic status of the species, as well as to older records from literature. Historical data on introductions of various species are reported.
An altitudinal survey of grasses and sedges was conducted on the Sirimon and Chogoria tracks on Mount Kenya to supplement previous surveys restricted to the Timau track. Thirty seven grasses and twenty three sedges were recorded and stable carbon isotope analysis was used to identify the photosynthetic pathway (C3 or C4) used by these species. The occurrence of a group of C4 graminoids was confirmed close above the tree line, and the literature suggests this may also hold for the Aberdares Range and other East African mountain massifs. Lower altitude graminoids are C3 forest species, and this distribution upsets the assumption that C4 gives way to C3 with increasing altitude. The significance of this is discussed in relation to the interpretation of palaeoenvironments through carbon stable isotope proxies.
Syrphidae (Diptera) were collected from different sites in Kakamega Forest, the only dry guineo-congolian rain forest relict in Kenya. In addition, literature records were compiled and old collections specimens were re-identified. In total, 74 species or 43 % of the known syrphid fauna in Kenya, were identified. The fauna indicates a biogeographical affinity with the main central and western African rain forest belt, with 12 out of the 74 species being indicator species for such a link. The alpha and beta diversity were compared at four sites, representing the main ecological habitats within the forest complex. Mostly undisturbed forest habitat shows the highest diversity. It also harbours a large proportion of the indicator species (seven out of 12). Natural glades in the forest show a low similarity with the other habitats, indicating the more exceptional fauna of the natural grasslands. The seasonal fluctuations for the more abundant species are briefly discussed. Most species reach highest abundance during the dry season.
Reptiles and amphibians are reported from Mpala Research Centre, located in semiarid savannah on the Laikipia Plateau of central Kenya, at 1650 m elevation at 0.293° N and 36.899° E. An intensive survey was undertaken 5–7 July 1998, supplemented by incidental sampling on other occasions. A total of 17 species are known from Mpala Research Centre: 4 toads and frogs, 1 tortoise, 7 lizards, and 5 snakes.