In a tragic incident this week, a man died of his injuries after being attacked by white lions that had escaped from their enclosure at Lion Tree Top Lodge in Hoedspruit, South Africa.
The deceased’s friend was also attacked but, based on advice received subsequent to our publishing this story, we understand that the friend was not injured. The escaped lions made their way from Lion Tree Top Lodge to the neighbouring property, Ngama Lodge, where they attacked the two gentlemen – who are both employees of Ngama Lodge.
According to their website, Lion Tree Top Lodge raised the white lions to educate people about the plight of lions in the wild. The website goes on to say: “Our facility will accommodate these animals for the rest of their lives. When the lions reach a certain age, guests will get to view the lions in their enclosure from a game drive vehicle”. Pictures on the website show tourists walking with young white lions.
During a telephone discussion with Africa Geographic, a distraught West Mathewson, owner of Lion Tree Top Lodge, said that the lions escaped their enclosure by climbing a tree and jumping over the fence. He stressed that these lions are friendly and not aggressive and that he walks with them 3-4 hours per day. According to Mr Mathewson the lions are now back in their enclosure at Lion Tree Tops Lodge.
Hoedspruit police spokesman Luvhuhani Mulaudzi: “Qebekhulu Justice and an unidentified friend of his were attacked by a lion on January 12, when they were collecting firewood within their work premises.” An inquest has been registered and investigations are under way.