Man killed in lion attack at game reserve outside Pretoria

A 70-year-old man was killed by one of his lions on a game farm east of Pretoria on Tuesday.

Netwerk24 reports that the attack happened at the Mahala View Lodge near Cullinan, owned by the man who was attacked.

Best Care spokesperson Xander Loubser told News24 that Leon van Biljon was the owner of a number of lions on the farm.

He was attacked while tending to them in their enclosure and was reportedly dead when paramedics had arrived.

Van Biljon was fixing a broken fence in the enclosure and was presumably sitting with his back facing the three lions when one of them attacked him by his neck, according to Netwerk24.

Following the attack, a number of lions were shot dead by staff members. 

Van Biljon was the owner of the lion that attacked him and those that were shot dead, Pretoria North Rekord reported.

"The decision to shoot the lions was made by people on the premises in order to get to the deceased," Loubser said. 

"We are awaiting the arrival of the official paramedic to get more information about the incident. It is now a police matter, so the man's remains have not yet been removed," Loubser earlier told News24.

Cullinan police spokesperson Constable Connie Moganedi confirmed that officers had visited the scene and opened an inquest.

She said the caretaker had seen the victim being mauled by the lions and shouted for help.

Neighbours had rushed to assist and then put down the lions, she said.

On the lodge's website it said there were three lions on the premises: "Rambo, Nakita and Katryn will capture the imagination of anyone visiting".

It said Van Biljon offered lion lectures, feedings and game drives for guests.

Fiona Miles, director of FOUR PAWS in South Africa, said all loss of life was tragic and their deepest sympathy went to his family.

"However, these attacks can be avoided by not allowing any unnecessary human-wildlife interaction. The fact remains that lions are wild animals and no matter how habituated or tame they might seem, they remain unpredictable and instinctive," she said.

"The predator’s instinct will seek out certain characteristics and identify easy prey, i.e. the small, weak, slow and sick." 

Miles said what seemed to be happening with captive animals in facilities where interaction was a regular occurrence, was that they reached a "breaking point" where they lashed out.

"About 60% of all the reported attacks on human due to predator interaction, involved captive-bred lions, rather than cheetahs or tigers."

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