Fatal animal attacks on humans are so rare that it makes a movie like Jaws seem almost criminal. Animals only attack humans if they're threatened, or really hungry, or if the human is poking the animal with a stick. They obviously don't go around seeking out and slaughtering humans just for the murderous thrill of it.
Well... most of them don't. See, the thing is, Jaws was based on a true story. It's one of a few rare, terrifying cases where an animal just methodically went about killing lots and lots of people. Such as...
A 1,000 mile long stretch of track that cut across British East Africa called the Kenya-Uganda Railway. Since the British themselves were far too busy drinking tea and solving mysteries to build a railway, they outsourced to thousands of desperate Sikh laborers, many of whom died building it.
England: Granted, we were always hard on animals, particularly those that lived in tribes.
The problem with killing a bunch of dead natives other than the obvious permanent scarring on your soul and the potential for getting haunted by the guy from Poltergeist, is the animals. They get used to the daily human flesh buffet, and the mass graves of dead Sikh workers helped a pair of mane-less male lions develop a taste for people.
The future can't come quickly enough.
The Tsavo Man-Eaters terrorized the workers of the Kenya-Uganda railway for nine terrifying months.
How They Killed:
We need to be clear: These bizarrely skin-headed lions weren't protecting themselves, they were actively sneaking into camp at night, climbing into tents and dragging the sleeping workers away to their deaths. Those tents were like pistachio shells to the lions, except the nuts inside kept screaming and had families to support, and oh God that's the saddest thing ever.
Over the long months of the spree, the workers and their British managers tried every conceivable way to stop the lions: they sent out hunting parties (who were evaded or slaughtered); built gigantic fences made of fucking thorns; and set out traps, but none of it worked. The lions were just like, "Oh, thorns, I'm totes out of my element, I've never had to avoid them growing up in the fucking jungle," before murdering more sleeping workers. For months the lions dragged away and ate the railway workers, killing as many as 135 of them.
How They Died:
After many, many months of murdering and skipping through traps and defenses like horrifying cartoon characters, the Man-Eaters of Tsavo were finally brought down. In true movie monster fashion, they didn't die easily.
The man responsible for killing them, John Henry Patterson shot the first lion five times with a .303 caliber rifle over the course of an entire day as the lion continued to stalk him. Then it took eight shots (one directly in the head) to kill the second.
Just to recap, that's 13 bullets to kill the Man-Eaters as they were hunting him. And these were huge, turn of the century, British bullets too. Either Patterson was a terrible shot or the two lions really, really wanted to kill him.
December 9-14, 1915
Sankebetsu, Japan. And not the Japan you're thinking of, with all its baffling video games and sexual perversions. Back in 1915, the vast majority of Japan was made up of sleepy little farming communities. Think Oklahoma, but less relentlessly awful.
Hardly a meth house in sight!
Japan has maintained a long standing tradition of getting everything backward, even the Goldilocks story. One morning in November, an 800-pound Ussuri brown bear wandered up to the Ikeda family homestead in the Sino village of Sankebetsu Rokusen-sawa. The bear fled after only a few minutes, but returned several days later to a nearby house and mauled a baby before dragging its babysitter off into the woods to be eaten. Move over, former-saddest-thing-ever, there's a new chief in town.
A hunting party chased down the bear and managed to shoot it once but it escaped. The general consensus among the group was "eh, good enough." They were a bad hunting party.
The next night, the bear made its way to another house and killed three more people. This time, 50 local guardsmen made it to the house in time to fight the bear. If you've ever watched a monster movie, you know how this ended.
RIFLES ARE USELESS!
The Sankebetsu murder-bear escaped yet again into the night.
How He Killed:
We'll say this for the bear: He didn't like to waste meat. Upon their return to the Ota house, a search party found what was left of one of the victims (a head and some leggy bits) buried in the snow for safe-keeping.
In two days, the bear-tastrophe robbed six people (one of whom was pregnant) of their lives. The local militia were so terrified that they began to flee their posts. Only the men who had survived the recent war with Russia had the balls to stay.
They'd seen far worse.
How He Died:
The local authorities soon realized they had only one option; call up Yamamoto Heikichi, an expert bear-hunter with a legendary reputation. Unfortunately, Yamamoto had pawned his gun for liquor several days earlier. He refused the request on grounds that he would much rather be drinking.
Eventually, the town managed to convince Yamamoto to come and save their asses. He helped form a squadron of anti-bear snipers. Even with 60 men and a cadre of elite bear-hunters on the trail, it took several days to hunt down and finish the bear off. The autopsy revealed traces of his victims in the 836-pound carcass.
Aberdare Forest, British East Africa. Like everywhere else in Africa, Aberdare is just lousy with elephants (we presume, we've never been farther east than the 7-11 by the old middle school). While the circus and Disney tends to portray the elephant as a gentle giant, their behavior can more closely resemble a drugged up, confused teenager.
A bull African Bush elephant labeled the Rogue Elephant of Aberdare Forest went on a vicious, multi-month rampage across villages and farms in the area. While rogue elephants are far from unique, this one seemed to be just a little bit more of a dick than the rest.
Holy shit that elephant set the jungle on fire, he's got nothing to lose!
The elephant evaded (or killed) several local hunters on multiple occasions, and attacked a number of small villages just for the hell of it. But he never attacked the same village twice so his movements were unpredictable and impossible to follow. Clearly outmatched, the locals knew their only hope lay in calling upon a modern-day Beowulf.
Enter the aptly named J.A. Hunter, a big game hunter and professional badass. Before and after World War II, Hunter traipsed up and down Africa with a large-bore, rifle leading safaris and slaughtering over a thousand rhinos. As a renowned beast killer, Hunter found himself occasionally asked by locals to deal with man-eating monsters. A local village begged Hunter for help tracking and killing the angry elephant and, unable to resist the allure of shooting a giant animal in the head, he consented.
How He Killed:
J.A. Hunter documented his conversations with the natives about the rogue elephant attacks. He wrote, "Two natives were returning to their village one evening when they saw a great black mass standing motionless in the shadows. The men shouted to scare the thing away. At once the mass left the shadows and charged them at fearful speed ... They heard the man's screams as the elephant caught him. The great brute put one foot on his victim, and pulled him to pieces with his trunk. Then he stamped the body into the ground and went away."
The elephant would wait in the shadows for people and then tear them limb from limb like a giant, less subtle version of Batman.
How He Died:
The elephant evaded Hunter for two days and deliberately led the hunting party into treacherous terrain, forcing them to crawl through brambles and nettles and briars.
Eventually, J.A. Hunter proved to be the superior murdering machine. Upon performing the autopsy, he found a bullet buried in the nerve center of the bull's right tusk, which he believed was the explanation for the elephant's violence. Rather than taking the moral of "human intervention in the lives of animals" to heart, Hunter went on to shoot more guns at piles of animals throughout the rest of his career. So we wonder, who was really the bigger dick?