In Johannesburg, South Africa animal advocates are furious after the safari park staff shot and killed a lion after the animal attacked the safari owner in the lion’s enclosures on Wednesday. Mike Hodge, 67, is recovering from neck and jaw injuries after the attack at the Marakele Animal Sanctuary in Thabazimbi.
According to AyolaNews, Hodge had entered, Shamba the lion’s enclosure, to investigate something lying on the ground attracting the lion’s attention.
“It (the smell and whatever was on the ground) had put the lion on edge but when Mike went in, the lion turned and came for him and he ran but couldn’t get through the gate quick enough and it had him.”
In the disturbing footage captured on video, Shamba can be seen spotting Hodge and chasing him towards the metal doors of the enclosure. The lion drags Hodge back towards the bushes. Guests of the park screamed as the 10-year-old lion pawed the man until gunshots are fired into the air and scared the animal away. The lion remained near his victim despite more rifle shots fired into the air. Questions remain why the lion was not tranquilized when he was dragging his prey towards the bushes.
The website for the Marakele Animal Sanctuary cites the park was opened in 2010 and featured white lions, cheetahs and two Bengal tigers. Hodge raised Shamba since he was a cub, and the criticism of how the situation was handled has caused the park to shut down and delete its Facebook page. The park offered overnight accommodations to guests and rides in what was called a “lion mobile” which was a caged truck where food was tossed on top and the lions would jump on the vehicle while guests were inside.
The organization has been criticized by conservationists‚ who contend wild animals belong free in the wild and captive animal breeding has no conservation value.
“So another beautiful lion is lost. Killed for behaving according to his natural instinct,” wrote Wendy Trent. “He was bred, caged and exploited for profit from birth by a greed-driven individual with a god complex who though that ‘his’ lion wouldn’t attack him.”
Rest in peace Shamba.
The video via the Washington Post can be viewed here. (Disturbing – be warned and not suggested for all audiences)