A crime library for rogue animals on the loose.

Rogue elephant goes on a killing rampage in India.
Rogue elephant goes on a killing rampage in India.

“And now, take a look at my personal true crime library,” Ralph Jephson said with a sweeping gesture toward a wall in his den.  The whole wall was filled with book cases, turned the corner and went on some more.

His friend Bill Branton replied, “That’s a lot of crime, yessirree!  When you look at it all lined up that way, it’s a whole lot of crime.”  He let out a long whistle at the end of his sentence.

Ralph went on:  “I prefer the stories about murders, compared to burglars, robbers embezzlers and arsonists.  That whole section there is just on serial killers, alone.  I am curious about the psychological profiles of these people.  What makes ‘em tick?”

“That is an interesting if not macabre subject, Ralph, but there are some serial killers we will never be able to do a psychological profile on.” Bill threw out a tantalizing possibility.

“How so?”  Ralph was ready for more information.

“Have you heard of a gang of killers that operated between 1907 and 1938 on the sub-continent of India?” Bill asked.

“Can’t say as I have, right off the bat.” Ralph replied.

“It was known as the murderous big cat gang of India.”  Bill was ready with his off-beat reply.  “They killed more individuals than people have fingers and toes.”

“Oh, animals.  Sounds gruesome.”

“There was another gang of big cat killers in Uganda and Kenya quite a few years back, 1898.  One duo of these beasts killed over one hundred railroad workers.  The killers were from a strange tribe of mane-less male lions.”

“I had no idea there were ever any male lions without manes in existence.” Ralph said.

“Then there was the Killer Snake of Nigeria that went on a ten day killing spree in 1999. Bill was a walking encyclopedia on rogue animals, it seemed.

“I don’t remember that case either,” Ralph admitted.

“Yes, I will never understand the phenomena of rogue killer animals.  Granted, they have every reason to be plumb infuriated at mankind, but why are there only a few that rise up and take revenge?  Did you ever think of that?  It isn’t just hunger.  Some of these attacks occur when plenty of their tastiest prey is frolicking close by, within easy reach.  They pay no attention and seek out man.”

“I do remember one scary event.  There was a lengthy drought in Mexico a few years back and mountain lions and leopards were traveling in great numbers far up into Texas looking for water.”  Ralph offered.

Bill replied with a smile.  “Yes, I remember that well.  It was a nerve-wracking time for Texans.  In the instances I am talking of, however, something more than hunger or thirst is driving them and bringing them out into the open.  It is an aggressive hunting down and singling out of human beings, for reasons known only to the animals themselves.”

“It is very unsettling and mysterious.”

“One of the most prolific was the Killer Elephant of India.”

“I don’t remember that one at all.  I am sure you will fill me in,” Ralph said with a sort of sneer.

“The Killer Elephant of India killed twenty-seven people over a two year period, ending in 2006.  The villagers of Sonipur were filled with terror.  Elephants seem so kindly, wise, laid-back and easy going.  This elephant liked to maul and trample people for some reason.  He chased down fourteen people in one six-month period.”

“Reckon it was a toothache?” Ralph asked in all seriousness.

“I have heard a toothache can do that—can make animal so cranky that it goes nuts.  But this wasn’t the case with the animals I am mentioning.  This one elephant that the locals nicknamed Osama Bin Laden, because of his hiding capabilities, destroyed homes and buildings, also—just toppled them over and squashed them flat.  He had been shot at many times, although it was against the law to mess with elephants in India.  He had no fear of guns or the loud noise that goes with them. When they went after him with torches to scare him off—he had no fear of fire.”

“What happened?”  Ralph wanted to know.

“The government put a shoot-to-kill order on the animal after the human death count took a quick upturn.  The edict languished on the books for two years waiting for approval.  Many more people died.  A licensed hunter finally brought him down.”

“They killed him?”

“We think!  They shot him right outside a large tea estate.  Then a rumor went around that they shot the wrong damn elephant!”  Bill chuckled out loud.

“Oh my gosh.”

“There was another rogue elephant almost as bad, in the 1940s in Aberdare Forest, British East Africa. This male elephant would spy on humans, silently, from the darkness, then charge out and commit murder.  Then it would just walk away.  It was finally felled by a hunter.  In this instance it may have been a toothache.  An old bullet was found in the nerve tissue feeding its right tusk.

“Tusk, tusk!”  Ralph threw out an awful pun. “Now, you’ve done it!”

“What, Ralph?”

“I will have to start up a whole new section in my true crime library:  Animals that Murder.

“Don’t forget the Brown Bear of Sankebetsu, Japan that mauled and murdered many in 1915.” Bill said with glee. “He weighed 836 pounds and carted off people, one by one, to the nearby woods to finish them off.

Ralph groaned aloud.

“Then there was the great white shark off the coast of New Jersey in the early 1900s…… got confused and swam up a river…… killed several swimmers there—remember Jaws?  It was the model for Jaws…I am sure you know about that one….and let’s see, there was…….”

Yes, Ralph reckoned, while scratching his head, that he would have to start a whole new section in his true crime library.

     ScavengersSong

Please click the book cover image to read more about Sara Marie Hogg and her novels.

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  • Caleb Pirtle

    Animals are like people. We often know what sets them off, why they do things to endanger others. But often, we have no idea why their minds twist and break, and they go on a killing rampage. But then, life is full of mysteries. Nothing is certain and little is understood.

    • Sara Marie Hogg

      I ran across this killer elephant story when I was looking up articles on the elephant that killed her handler at the Springfield zoo, last fall. Both were beloved by the community–the elephant and her senior handler. She had been going through a perplexing cranky spell. No one knew the source of her angst, except that another female elephant in her group had died of old age recently, and she was very attached to that elephant. I am glad they did not put her down. She is at the zoo, still, but is being given a wide berth. Experts also came in and instigated new handler/elephant safety measures including the mechanics of improved buffer zones. A few years back, many of the baby elephants at that zoo and many others all over the country were dying of a strange herpes virus. They would live a few months after a healthy birth, then die. Elephants are big grievers, as you know. Was captivity interfering with that? It crossed my mind. Thanks, Caleb. I have a deep affection for animals (except snakes and sharks and grizzly bears, but they are necessary).

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