In most developed countries, cannibalism is, to put it mildly, frowned upon. I certainly can’t think of any media that depicts cannibalism in a positive light, as the subject is usually reserved for dark humor and horror stories.
But cannibalism is still alive and well in several parts of the world, and it’s definitely no joke.
While Fiji was once known as “Cannibal Island.” Since the 19th century, however, there is only one known cannibalistic group on the island, located in the Naihehe Caves.
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In Western New Guinea, running along the Ndeiram Kabur River, the nearly 4000 people in the Korowai tribe reserves the consumption of human flesh for special occasions: namely, revenge. They believe that a khakhua (“witch man”) kills members of the tribe for unknown reasons, so they must eat the victim’s body to avenge him.
A sect of monks known as the Aghori believe that they can become more enlightened spiritually by consuming the deceased. There are about 20 members of this tribe today, but their population was once in the hundreds. The ritual includes drinking from bowls made of human skulls, with their own bodies covered in the burnt remains of the dead. They only eat bodies that are already dead, though; they never kill the humans that they eat.
Francis Hannaway / Wikimedia Commons
According to claims made by Sinafasi Makelo, representing the Mbuti Pygmies during a 2003 meeting with U.N members shortly after the Second Congo War, the Ituri province’s Congolese rebels were eating the Mbuti people…alive.
Shortly after the First Liberian Civil War, Doctors Without Borders members reported evidence of cannibalism in the area. Hoping that Amnesty International would investigate further, doctors sent over the evidence, but the information was never made public. Pierre Sane, secretary general of Amnesty International at the time, said “what they do with the bodies after human rights violations are committed is not part of our mandate or concern.” There is still some controversy regarding the issue, with many people claiming that the evidence was covered up.
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During the Khmer Rouge Rebellion of the 1970’s, Cambodian troops reportedly cut out and ate Khmer Rouge soldiers’ hearts and livers after the rebels were killed. Sometimes they brought the meat home for dinner. Other times, they ate it right on the battlefield.
Nuku Heva is an unbelievably beautiful island, but something happened to a tourist named Stefan Ramin and his girlfriend that is straight out of a horror movie. Stefan went on a traditional goat hunt with a tour guide, but soon went missing. When the tour guide returned to Stefan’s girlfriend, seemingly to inform her of the incident, the guide tried instead to tie her to a tree. She escaped, but her boyfriend’s remains were later found near a campfire that supposedly belonged to a cannibalistic tribe. It’s unclear whether or not the tour guide was a part of this tribe, but there is certainly reason to believe that he had a connection.
Arwin Meiwes claimed that he had fantasized about killing and eating a human. He was so determined that he joined chatrooms and posted a grotesque wanted ad in the hopes of finding somebody willing to volunteer their body to him. Amazingly, he found a winner in 43-year-old Bernd Brandes. Arwin recorded the entire meeting on video, in which the two shared a dinner of Bernd’s genitals before Arwin stabbed him in the chest with a foot-long knife. He was caught by police, and since cannibalism itself is not a crime in Germany, Arwin was simply charged with murder.
A man named Ronald Poppo suffered terrible injuries after his face was partially eaten by a naked man named Rudy Eugene on a freeway. Rudy refused to stop eating Ronald’s flesh, so a police officer shot and killed him.
It’s hard to believe that something as horrifying as cannibalism has ever occurred, never mind still happens today!
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