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Did David Livingstone Get Mauled By a Lion?

David Livingstone was a Scottish missionary, doctor, and explorer. He sought to bring civilization to Africa by preaching Christianity during his expeditions. But did you know he survived a lion attack?

Dr. Livingstone was caught and mauled by a lion on one of his expeditions. He described the experience as a painless dream. Livingston tried to ban the picture of the famous lion attack up until his death.

The Early Life of Dr. David Livingstone

David Livingstone was born on March 19, 1813, in Lanarkshire, Scotland. He grew up in Scotland with six other siblings. At the young age of 10, he was already helping his family in the cotton mill that they worked in. With a portion of his first week’s wages, he purchased a Latin grammar book.

Livingstone then joined an independent Christian congregation in his teenage years. In 1834, British and American churches appealed for medical missions in China. This influenced Livingstone to pursue a profession in medicine. In order to prepare himself, he studied Greek, theology, and medicine while working part-time at the cotton mill.

In 1838 he was accepted by the London Missionary Society. For the next 15 years, he moved across Africa to promote Christianity and bring civilization to uncharted territory. (Source: Britannica)

When Was Livingstone Mauled By a Lion?

By 1842, he had gone farther than any European explorer. He reached Kalahari country, which was known to be hostile towards foreigners. But Livingstone familiarized himself with the locals. He learned the language and the cultures. In 1844, while on an expedition to Mabotsa, he was mauled by a lion.

Fortunately, he survived the attack but severely injured his left arm. He could no longer support the barrel of a gun with his left hand. (Source: Britannica)

Did Livingstone Try to Ban the Picture of the Lion Attack?

Livingstone was appalled by the illustration made of his encounter with the lion in 1844. It was even used in his best-selling book. He was so embarrassed by the artist’s impression of him that he wanted it gone. He wrote a letter to his publisher about it.

The lion encounter is absolutely abominable. I entreat you by all that is good to suppress it. Everyone who knows what a lion is will die laughing at it.

David Livingstone

(Source: The Free Library)

While on an expedition in Ilala, Lake Bangweulu (now Zambia), Livingstone caught malaria and started bleeding internally due to dysentery. He passed away on May 1, 1873, at Chief Chitambo’s village. He was only 60.

His attendants, Chuma and Susi, removed his heart and buried it under a tree closest to where he died. The site is now known as the Livingstone Memorial. The rest of his remains and belongings were returned to London. The interment was done at the Westminister Abbey.

The strangest disease I have seen in this country seems really to be broken-heartedness, and it attacks free men who have been captured and made slaves. Twenty one were unchained, as now safe; however all ran away at once; but eight with many others still in chains, died in three days after the crossing. They described their only pain in the heart, and placed the hand correctly on the spot, though many think the organ stands high up in the breast-bone.

David Livingstone

(Source: The Personal Life of David Livingstone)

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