Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Full Moon May Signal Rise in Lion Attacks

Lion attacks in Tanzania rise after the full moon, possibly because a waxing moon makes hunting difficult for the lions. Christopher Intagliata reports

Think humans are at the top of the food chain? Not quite, in parts of Africa. Lions have attacked over 1000 people in Tanzania in the last 20 years. Two thirds of those attacks were fatal, and the victims were eaten. But there does seem to be a way to lower the risk of becoming dinner—avoid going out before moonrise on the nights following the full moon. So says a study in the journal Public Library of Science One. [Craig Packer et al., "Fear of Darkness, the Full Moon and the Nocturnal Ecology of African Lions"]

Researchers plotted the timing of nearly 500 of those lion attacks against the phases of the moon. And they found that the odds of being devoured by a lion were highest on nights following the full moon—nights when the moon rises late, providing hours of darkness for lions to stage a strike.

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