Pieter Nortjé (56) from Bloemfontein in the Free State was bitten by a lion on the arm nine months ago, but says he’s still too traumatised to go back to where it happened.
Pieter and his wife, Ilze, visited the Tikwe River Lodge in April last year. They received the getaway at the holiday resort as a gift to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary but the celebrations quickly turned into a nightmare when the incident happened.
Pieter received more than 60 stitches but soon after had to fight for his life when he developed septic shock. His family didn’t know if he’d make it.
On the day of the attack the couple were on a game drive when the vehicle stopped at a lion camp. The guide informed them that the animals were meek and Pieter stuck his arm through the fence to pet a lion.
“The lioness then came from the side and bit straight through my arm. I think she was jealous because I was petting him. Luckily she didn’t tug at it, otherwise she would’ve ripped my arm right off,” he says.
Fortunately no bones were broken, only muscles were damaged.
“The wound became infected after I got stitches and that’s when I was at death’s door,” says Pieter, who works with his hands building trucks for a living.
He spent 10 days in ICU and was discharged after doctors finally managed to stop the bacteria in his bloodstream from spreading.
“I was worried about the extent of the damage to my arm and hand, but I’m able to work fully. My hand isn’t as strong as before the accident, but doctors said it should get better with time.”
Pieter says the incident could’ve happened to anyone and he bears no grudges towards the lodge.
“Look, these are wild animals and I don’t blame Tikwe [Lodge]. I told them not to worry about it and they shouldn’t put the lioness out or anything like that.”
He says even though the lodge gifted him and his wife a free weekend’s stay, he’s still too traumatised to go back.
“I’m doing well, but that was a hell of a thing to go through.”