Lions kill tourist in Zimbabwe
Harare - A pride of lions fatally mauled a tourist while he showered under a tree as darkness fell on the unfenced campsite in a nature reserve, a conservationist said on Thursday.
Peter Evershed, a 59-year-old Zimbabwean businessman, was attacked by five lions at the Chitake Springs bush camp, a wildlife viewing area near the Mana Pools nature reserve, said Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force head Johnny Rodrigues.
Evershed was the last of his group of family and friends to take a shower on Saturday. They heard Evershed scream and raced to the showers but he was already dead from a slash to the throat, Rodrigues said.
The lions retreated only after a safari operator pulled up in a vehicle with its headlights on and fired shots into the air, Rodrigues told Zimbabwe Herald Online.
Rodrigues said a surge in hunting amid Zimbabwe's economic meltdown has made animals more "traumatised" and dangerous to humans, though lions are generally not targeted by poachers.
"We appeal to everyone to exercise extreme caution. Animals have become extremely unpredictable," Rodrigues said.
Witnesses say three elephants and three buffalo were illegally killed to feed participants at a political meeting of President Robert Mugabe's party in western Zimbabwe last month. The military, meanwhile, has denied witness reports that it's shooting wildlife in "Operation Nyama," or Operation Meat in the local language, to feed hungry soldiers.
Last month, South African business executive Don Hornsby was killed by an elephant in the nearby Matusadona preserve. Hornsby had helped fund feeding programmes for orphaned animals.
Shortly before Hornsby's death, veteran conservationist Steve Kok died when a wounded buffalo charged him as he was destroying traps and wire snares laid by poachers.
And in September, businessman Geoff Blythe was attacked by a female elephant as he rode a bicycle ride near his home in the lakeside town of Kariba, 370km northwest of Harare. He barely survived the nightmarish encounter in an area normally considered safe from marauding animals.
Blythe, also a volunteer in conservation programmes, told family and friends he tried to pedal as fast as he could from the elephant cow and her calf, but the bike chain dislodged.
He dumped the bike and ran, but there were no trees or powerline towers near enough to climb. He threw himself into a gully of soft sand as the elephant overtook him. The elephant gored him in the back and thigh and kicked him into thorny bushes before backing off. Blythe was hospitalised for life-threatening wounds, and also suffered cuts and fractured ribs.
"He was lucky to escape with his life," Rodrigues said.