A 22-year-old tourist was mauled to death by a lion in a game reserve outside Pretoria on Tuesday.
The incident happened when a lioness under the watch of animal behaviourist Kevin Richardson went rogue and attacked the woman, apparently while she was taking photographs outside the fence of a tented camp in the Dinokeng Big Five Reserve, 45 kilometres outside of Pretoria.
In a post on Facebook, Richardson explained how the incident occurred.
“Myself and an experienced colleague took three lions walking in the reserve, as we do on a weekly basis, as part of their exercise and stimulation regiment. We assessed the landscape for other big 5 animals and as per procedure sent out a notification that we were walking in the reserve. One of the lionesses charged off after an Impala and must have run 2,0 to 2,5 kilometres where she encountered the 22-year-old outside the car.”
The young woman was not a guest at the camp. She had accompanied a friend to conduct an interview with the camp’s manager.
Before leaving the reserve, the two visitors were taking photographs outside the camp, when the lion attacked.
According to Arrive Alive, incidents like this are few and far between. But whether you are on a guided game drive in a open 4x4, or in your own vehicle on a self-drive safrai, these are the things you should be aware of.
Most accidents occur when tourists leave their vehicles. Experts believe that vehicles allow you see more wildlife because your human scent and shape is disguised – and you are not seen as a threat. Wild animals will often let a vehicle much closer than they would a person on foot.
It is generally safe to exit the vehicle at designated viewpoints, hides, and camps – where wildlife is more familiar with people and less intimidated by your presence.
Remain on the allocated paths at all times and do not leave them. The bush is deceptively thick and can hide nasty surprises like ditches.
Even if you think you are alone, you may not be. Predators are experts at camouflage, and at remaining quiet and hidden. Don’t become their prey.
Never attempt to feed or approach any wild animal.
If you are close to an animal and observing it, take note of its behaviour. If it looks agitated in any way, or makes mock runs at you, or stares and paces up and down, then move slowly away.
Revving the engine or hooting is not a good idea as this might be seen as a challenge - a contest where the odds are not on your side. It's best when viewing animals to switch the engine off and observe game quietly.
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