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Cannibalism in Brazil engraving by Theodor de Bry to illustrate Hans Staden's account of his captivity in 1557.
I ate someone with a tattoo once. Once. The ink made the meat taste like shit.
~ Jeffrey Dahmer, an infamous cannibal and serial killer.

Cannibalism is the practice of someone or something eating the same species as itself. Humans have practiced cannibalism for thousands of years, and in some ancient societies, it was considered perfectly acceptable, much like human sacrifice. However, during modern times, cannibalism has become more associated with mental disorder and is considered violent, barbaric, and depraved by most of society today.

Several noted serial killers have practiced cannibalism.

Known cannibals

Other incidents of cannibalism

  • There have been reports of Japanese soldiers eating the organs of Chinese soldiers and prisoners of war during the Rape of Nanking.
  • During the last few years of the Second Congo War, various rebel groups carried out a campaign of genocide and ethnic cleansing against Mbuti pygmies known as Effacer le tableau ("erasing the board") and multiple reports document instances of rebels hunting down and eating the pygmies, allegedly because they believed them to be "subhuman." Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of Mbuti pygmies, successfully appealed to the United Nations Security Council to recognize cannibalism as both a war crime and a crime against humanity.
  • DINA, the secret police of Chile during the Augusto Pinochet regime, were widely renowned for their extreme sadism and brutality. There are documented reports of DINA forcing prisoners of the concentration camps they ran to cannibalize other prisoners when they died as a form of psychological torture.
  • There are widespread oral reports, and some official documentation, of cannibalism being practiced in various forms during the Great Chinese Famine (a product of dictator Mao Zedong's "Great Leap Forward") from 1959 to 1961. Due to the scale of the famine, the resulting cannibalism has been described as "on a scale unprecedented in the history of the 20th century".
  • Many members of the Revolutionary United Front practiced cannibalism during the Sierra Leone Civil War.
  • Cannibalism took place in the concentration and death camps in the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), a Nazi puppet state which was governed by the fascist Ustaše organization. Some survivors testified that some of the Ustashas drank the blood from the slashed throats of the victims. Ustaše leader Ante Pavelić was also known to engage in cannibalism.
  • In July 2012, 29 members of a cannibal cult were arrested in northeast Papua New Guinea after eating at least seven people (four men and three women) believed to be sorcerers.
  • On 6 January 2015, a Reuters report revealed that the Mexican La Familia Michoacana and Knights Templar cartels were forcing potential recruits to eat the hearts of their victims as part of an initiation rite.
  • During the Harrying of the North committed by William the Conqueror in England in 1069, many people were forced to resort to cannibalism to survive.
  • The Siege of Ma'arra during the First Crusade became infamous due to reports that the crusaders had eaten the bodies of their dead Muslim opponents.
  • The Jalisco New Generation Cartel has been noted for cannibalizing some of its victims, sometimes during the training of new sicarios or cartel members.
  • The Attacotti, a tribe that raided Britain during Roman times, were said to cook and eat the bodies of slain foes.
  • Many Moriori were cannibalized by enemy tribesmen during the Moriori Genocide.
  • During the World War II Siege of Leningrad, many Russians inside Leningrad resorted to cannibalism after being surrounded by German troops and cut off from supplies.