A lion that mauled a young woman to death in South Africa was under the care of a man known as the “lion whisperer” for his close interactions with predators.
Kevin Richardson, who keeps lions at his animal sanctuary in the Dinokeng Game Reserve, said on a social media site that he and an experienced colleague took three lions for a walk in the reserve and that one chased an impala, eventually encountering the 22 year old woman at least two kilometers away.
Richardson said he followed procedure before the weekly excursion by assessing the area for other big five animals that includes rhino, elephant, buffalo, leopard and lion, and sent out a notification that he was walking with lions.
The woman died at a tented camp run by Richardson, who said he was devastated by the killing.
“The young woman was not a guest at the camp, but accompanied her friend to conduct an interview for an assignment with the camp’s manager,” he said. “Before leaving the reserve, the two visitors were taking photographs outside the camp where the attack occurred.”
A police investigation is underway. “The victim joined a friend who went to the camp for a school project,” said spokeswoman Constable Connie Moganedi. “When they were about to leave, the lioness attacked the young lady.”
The intimate glam camp with five tents is an hour’s drive from Johannesburg’s main international airport.
The management of the Dinokeng reserve said the woman was killed “within a conservation section that is not accessible to the general public” but lies within the reserve’s boundaries.
“The lion that was involved with this fatality was not one of the wild free-roaming lions of the Dinokeng Game Reserve,” the management said.
Some conservationists say captive-bred lions lose their fear of people and should not be released into the wild, partly because they pose a heightened threat to humans.