Lunar Lions: Big Cats More Likely to Eat Humans Just After Full Moon

Not a face you want to see under a full moon, according to a new study. (Photo: Str New / Reuters)
Jul 25, 2011· 0 MIN READ
Salvatore Cardoni holds a political science degree from the George Washington University. He's written about all things environment since 2007.

A travel advisory for that African safari you’ve been planning: pay attention to the lunar calendar.

According to a new report from the University of Minnesota, African lions are more likely to attack humans in the days immediately after a full moon.

During nights when the moon is full and sky is bright, lions struggle to catch pray. But in the 10 days following a full moon, the sky is darker and any human still outside is an easy target for the extra-hungry jungle cats.

The study examined more than 500 lion attacks in Tanzania between 1988 and 2009, a majority of which occurred between sunset and 10 p.m. Of these attacks, more than two-thirds were fatal, with the lions eating their human-prey.

"The number of attacks on people in the evening hours skyrockets for the first five days after the full moon," study researcher Craig Packer told LiveScience. "It was quite striking."

According to The Guardian:

"Although we are safest from lion attacks during well-lit nights, the full moon accurately indicates that the risks of lion predation will increase dramatically in the coming days. Thus the full moon is not dangerous in itself but is instead a portent of the darkness to come."