The Legend of Chief Udre Udre, Fiji’s Most Prolific Cannibal

Fijian chief Udre Udre is believed to have eaten more people than any other cannibal throughout history.
The tomb of cannibal chief Udre Udre in Fiji
The tomb of Udre Udre, notorious Fijian cannibal.

While natives of the Cannibal Isles were known for their voracious appetite for human flesh, the legend of one particularly insatiable Fijian chief continues intrigue and/or nauseate.

Ratu Udre Udre, a chief from Rakiraki in the northern area of Fiji’s largest island Viti Levu, used stones to keep a running tally of how many bodies he ate. In 1849, some time after the chief’s death (c.1840), missionary Richard Lyth recorded a gruesome discovery at the chief’s tomb: a long row of 872 stones, with many gaps where some stones had already been removed. After a conversation with Ravatu, one of Udre Udre’s sons, Lyth wrote, “Ravatu assured me that his father ate all this number of human beings. He added a stone to the row for each one he received. They were victims killed in war. He ate them all himself, he gave to none.”

When the chiefs of Rakiraki would go to battle alongside Udre Udre, they would give him the bodies of their victims. Ravatu also told Lyth that his father ate nothing but human flesh. What he couldn’t eat in one sitting he would keep preserved in a box so he always had a steady supply at hand. It is believed Udre Udre ate somewhere between 872 and 999 people in his lifetime, earning him the honor of being named Guinness World Record’s Most Prolific Cannibal.

Vintage photo of cannibalism in Fiji
Staged photo depicting acts of cannibalism in Fiji.

Stone walls, a lovo (oven) pit used for cooking people, and the remnants of house mounds mark the location where Udre Udre’s village once stood. The people of a nearby village believe the spirit of the renowned cannibal still resides there, and warn outsiders to stay away.

The tomb of the chief can be found a few kilometers from the village along King’s Road surrounded by many of his original rocks.


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