The Malawi Terror Beast refers to a cryptid which killed at least three people and severely injured 16 others in the central Dowa district, some 100 km from Lilongwe in 2003. The fatal attacks were against two elderly women and a three-year-old baby. The beast crushed their skulls and ate their intestines and genitals. Surviving victims of the beast sustained serious disfiguring injuries, with some of them losing both legs and hands while two lost both ears and eyes. One woman had her mouth and nose torn out by the beast. At least 4,000 people left four villages in the central Dowa district to seek refuge at a community hall at the district headquarters in order to escape the beast. An eyewitness reported that the beast was identical to an animal responsible for the deaths of five people and the maiming of over 20 which was shot the year before by game rangers and para-military police. Wildlife officials identified the beast as a rabid hyena though this was disputed by residents, saying that hyenas have shorter hind limbs. Some residents believed that the terror beast was the same animal that was slain by humans a year previous, and that it had come back to life to exact revenge.