If you're staring into the maw of a wild animal you should probably think about running away as fast as you can. A maw, you see, is an informal term for a mouth.
There's something ravenous as well as ferocious about the term maw, and in fact it comes from the Old English word maga meaning "stomach." Occasionally you may find it applied to human rather than animal usage, especially when implying comical greed, as in "he was stuffing cupcakes down his maw as fast as he could." Other colloquial terms for mouth, such as piehole, gob and trap tend to suggest a tone more amused than fearful.