During the construction of the Railway Bridge over the Tsavo River in 1898 by the British for what was then known as the Ugandan Railway, approximately 140 workers were killed by two Mane less male lions, over a period of 3 months.After repeated unsuccessful endeavors, the first lion was finally killed on 9th December, 1898 during a night hunt. The second three weeks later during a morning hunt, which almost cost Paterson his life. These lions were huge in size and the first of the two measured Nine feet six inches from tip of the nose to the tip of his tail and stood three feet eleven and a half inches high.
The chief engineer of the bridge was John Henry Paterson, who became a local hero for killing the famous Man Eaters of Tsavo, news of the event even reached the House of Lords and parliament, during the tenure of Prime Minister Lord Salisbury. Paterson became a local hero to the same worker who threatened his life months earlier when the ordeal began and was presented a symbolic silver bowl together with prayers of thanks. Engraved on the bowl were the following words:
"SIR, -- We, your Overseer, Timekeepers, Mistaris and Workmen, present you with this bowl as a token of our gratitude to you for your bravery in killing two man-eating lions at great risk to your own life, thereby saving us from the fate of being devoured by these terrible monsters who nightly broke into our tents and took our fellow-workers from our side. In presenting you with this bowl, we all add our prayers for your long life, happiness and prosperity. We shall ever remain, Sir, Your grateful servants," Baboo PURSHOTAM HURJEE PURMAR, Overseer and Clerk of Works, on behalf of your Workmen. Dated at Tsavo, January 30, 1899."
Paterson had always claimed the silver bowl from Tsavo to be his most highly prized trophy.