These Shocking True Stories of Man-Hunting Serial Killer Animals Will Haunt Your Nightmares

Some people believe that the most frightening serial killers are those who strike at random, choosing their victims based on chance encounters. But those people are wrong. The scariest serial killers in the world aren’t human at all.

For the most part, animals don’t attack humans unless they feel threatened or they’re trying to protect their territory or offspring. But in some rare instances, animals become murderous for no apparent reason other than that they enjoy killing. Take Jaws, for example — it’s not just one of the most iconic movies of all time. It’s also based on a true story.

But man-eating sharks aren’t the only ones with a taste for human flesh. Ahead, check out some of the most horrifying serial killers of all time who happened to be animals.

1. The Man-Eaters of Tsavo

Tsavo lions

The lions were later killed. | Richard Rhee/Wikimedia Commons

Just because lions are called king of the jungle it doesn’t mean they’re going around killing people for fun. Unless, of course, you’re talking about two particular lions who went hunting for humans.

Some speculate that these strangely short-haired lions developed a taste for human flesh from dining on the many corpses that succumbed to diseases in West Africa. But no matter what the reason, there’s no disputing that two of these hungry hunters stalked and killed an estimated 135 people who were building a railroad line in 1898.

The lions would sneak into the camps at night, dragging sleeping men from their tents and leaving no trace of skin or bones behind. Even a gigantic fence made of thorns wasn’t enough to deter these vicious creatures.

Lt. Col. John Henry Patterson eventually shot and killed the lions and sold their bodies to the Field Museum in Chicago. You can still go see the stuffed bodies of this murderous lion duo today.

Next: This 749 pound beast terrorized a village.

2. The brown bear of Sankebetsu

Brown bear in nature

The village was terrorized by the bear. | ricochet64/iStock/Getty Images

In the small farming village of Sankebetsu, Japan in 1915, a monstrous Ussuri brown bear named Kesagake wandered onto a family homestead for a few minutes and then left. But he came back a few days later and mauled a baby to death and dragged its babysitter into the woods to be eaten. A hunting party dispersed and shot the bear once before he escaped. They figured he would run off to die, but they were wrong.

In short order, the bloodthirsty bear killed six more people, including a pregnant woman who reportedly begged for her life. The homeowner escaped to tell the guardsmen — who had been staked out waiting for the bear’s return nearby — and all but a few brave war veterans fled in a panic, too scared to continue pursuing this man-eating monster.

Eventually, local authorities hired bear-hunting legend Yamamoto Heikichi to kill the bear. Even with his expertise and a band of 60 men, it took several days to find and kill Kesagake. When they finally did bring him down, the hunters discovered traces of the victims in his 749 pound carcass.

Next: This giant killer was almost impossible to catch.

3. The rogue elephant of Aberdare Forest

A bull elephant managed to terrorize a village. | iStock/Getty Images Plus

In the 1940s, an African bull elephant went on a rampage in the villages of East Africa. And while rogue elephants are known for being dangerous, this one was unique in his terrorizing efforts.

For one thing, he never hit the same village twice, making him almost impossible to find. He managed to outsmart several hunters who were tasked with tracking him down.

Finally, famous big game hunter J.A. Hunter came to the rescue. Hunter wrote about one of his conversations with the locals and said, “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.”

It took Hunter two days and some serious planning, but eventually, he was able to take down the mighty beast and save the villagers from peril.

Next: This man-eater was so famous, they made a movie about him.

4. The man-eating shark of the Jersey Shore

a shark in the water

The real life Jaws. | Mustafa Ozer/AFP/Getty Images

In early July 1916, a shark stalked the ocean waters of the New Jersey coast, attacking five people and killing four of them. The attacks cost the area hundreds of thousands worth of tourist dollars from terrified folks who justifiably canceled their beach vacations.

The locals banded together with pooled resources of guns, nets, and dynamite, but they weren’t able to catch the mighty beast. Eventually, the inspiration for the movie Jaws was captured by lion tamer Michael Schleisser off the coast of New York City. The great white shark weighed 325 pounds and had a belly full of human remains.

Still, some experts say the Jersey shore attacks were more likely the work of a bull shark, not a great white. We’ll never know for sure. The only thing we do know is that these events were the catalyst for America’s obsession with sharks.

Next: This killer is still at large.

5. Gustave the crocodile

Siamese Freshwater Crocodile

The Nile crocodile is a giant. | anakeseenadee/iStock/Getty Images

If you’ve heard of the country of Burundi, it might be because of their history of civil wars and genocide. But did you hear the one about the man-eating crocodile that’s been terrorizing the citizens?

The thing about crocodiles is they never stop growing as long as they keep eating — and Gustave definitely hasn’t been going hungry lately. This Nile born-and-bred croc is believed to be over 20 feet long and weighs 2,000 pounds. He’s also said to have eaten as many as 300 humans.

People have witnessed Gustave hunting down groups of five or six and taking bites without even eating people, proving that he may like to hunt just for the sake of killing. He once drowned a fisherman and left him uneaten.

The worst part of this story is that the killer is likely still on the loose. Gustave was never caught — despite the bullet hole in his head from one attempt. Though he hasn’t been seen since 2008, it’s presumed that he’s still alive.

Next: This murdering marine mammal is still alive in captivity.

6. Tilikum the Killer Whale

Killer Whale That Killed Its Trainer Returns To Show At SeaWorld

He killed two people. | Gerardo Mora/Getty Images

Not all killer whales go around killing people. But Tilikum is the exception to this rule.

This 22 foot, 12,000 pound behemoth lives at SeaWorld Orlando. His life in captivity began at the age of two when he was captured off the coast of Iceland in 1983.

In 1991, Tilicum made his first human kill. At the time he was living at Sealand of the Pacific in British Columbia. A 20-year-old student named Keltie Byrne jumped into the tank during a show and the killer whale along with two accomplices dragged the trainer underwater, purposefully drowning her in front of a crowd. The other trainers tried to throw life rings to this competitive-level swimmer but the whale kept blocking their efforts. They couldn’t even get the body out of the water until several hours later because the whales were guarding it.

Tilikum got moved to SeaWorld Orlando shortly after and killed his next victim in 1999. A naked 27-year-old man later identified as Daniel P. Dukes was found dead on Tilikum’s back with multiple contusions and lacerations. He had apparently snuck into the water park overnight for reasons unknown.

In February 2010, a veteran trainer named Dawn Brancheau was massaging the whale post-show when he suddenly pulled her into the water with murderous intentions. She died of blunt force trauma and a severed spine, and her scalp and left arm were practically detached from her body when she was finally released from his deadly jaws.

Next: This murderous reptile killed for fun.

7. The killer snake from Nigeria

Cobra snake

The snake killed 16 people in 10 days. | skynavin/iStock/Getty Images

Snakes don’t often kill just for the thrill of it. But the cobra from Birnin Kudu in Nigeria isn’t like other reptiles.

This villainous snake murdered 16 people over a ten day stretch in 1999. And while most snakes react in defense or to consume their prey, this cobra behaved quite differently. He reportedly lashed out unprovoked and would inject deadly venom, disappear, and then come back to strike again. He even chased people who attempted to run away.

The slithering serial killer was never captured.

Next: Some don’t believe this killer was really caught.

8. Osama Bin Laden the Elephant

Adult male elephant with tusks in the forest in Sri Lanka

The elephant killed 14 people. | TravellingLanes/iStock/Getty Images

Elephants usually hang out in groups, so when one is termed “rogue,” it automatically makes them more dangerous. However, when it comes to Osama bin Laden, that threat was tripled.

Laden (who was given that name by the villagers he was stalking) trampled 14 people to death in India in 2006. He hid in the surrounding forests, emerging only to lash out against people. When he was finally killed, he was charging towards his shooter while being pummeled with multiple bullets until he fell down dead a few yards short of the hunter.

However, some don’t believe that the slain elephant is really the same Osama bin Laden that they’d been hunting all along. Meaning he could still be out there, waiting to strike again.

Read more: The Terrifying Reasons Your Cat Wants to Kill You

Check out The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!