Lion attack victim cheats death
Jana van der Merwe, Volksblad
Bethlehem - A worker at a lion farm has cheated death after being attacked by lions.
A bloody and lacerated Ronnie Odendaal, 62, was rushed to the emergency room at the Hoogland Medi-Clinic in Bethlehem by paramedics on Monday afternoon after he was attacked by, it is suspected, more than three lions.
He had multiple flesh wounds and had to have surgery.
Odendaal, an employee of the controversial businessmen and game farmers Johan Appelgryn and Marius Prinsloo, had apparently been in a lion enclosure to remove carcasses on the farm Mara near Afrikaskop.
Although the lions belong to Appelgryn and Prinsloo, the farm belongs to Elias Mabizela, who bought the farm from Appelgryn in February.
Sarel Venter, manager of Netcare911 at Bethlehem, said Odendaal is lucky to have survived the incident.
"A farm worker drove into the enclosure with his bakkie to get him out of there before we arrived. He definitely saved the man's life," he said.
According to Venter, Odendaal had lacerations and cuts on his head, neck, back, right thigh and buttocks. His back injuries initially seemed so severe that Venter thought Odendaal would lose a kidney.
However, Karien Collett, spokesperson for the Medi-Clinic, said on Monday night that Odendaal's condition is stable.
She says Odendaal's worst injuries were the 7cm and 10cm cuts on his right thigh and his left side.
Later on Monday afternoon Dr Juan McAlpine, a plastic surgeon, operated on Odendaal.
Mabizela says the farm has five camps which house 15 lions.
Appelgryn refused to speak to Volksblad on Monday.
Volksblad has been told confidentially that Prinsloo is currently being investigated by the department of environmental affairs.
The department confirmed that Appelgryn and Prinsloo have permits for 34 lions.