Man mauled by lion recovering‚ lion killed during rescue
The owner of the Marakele Animal Sanctuary‚ who was attacked by his lion Shamba in Thabazimbi on Saturday‚ is recovering in hospital‚ his family said.
Shamba‚ 10‚ had been handraised as a cub by the family.
The family said that on Saturday morning at around 11:20am‚ Michael Hodge‚ 72‚ was doing what he loves most – sharing his love for predators with visitors to his private sanctuary just outside Thabazimbi in Limpopo.
The family said one of the highlights for tourists was a trip into the lion enclosure.
Hodge alighted from the safari vehicle to open the gate to exit after he had shown visitors around.
The family said as a precaution‚ a staff member routinely ensured that Shamba was distracted and removed from the gate area. “This can clearly be seen in the video as the staff member walks away from the tourists along the perimeter fence.
“Unexpectedly and unfortunately‚ the male lion returned and beared down on Mike who retreated – running towards the vehicle‚” the family said in a statement.
The lion dragged Hodge from the vehicle and the lion was fatally injured in the ensuing attempt to save Hodge.
Hodge’s wife and partner in the project Chrissy was in town during the incident and daughter Emma was at the main gate.
“Mike was rushed to the local hospital and stabilised before being airlifted to a Johannesburg hospital. He has a broken jaw and several lacerations‚ but is recovering well‚” Chrissy said. She said her husband’s recovery process would be long and arduous.
She said this had been a double tragedy for the family. “The entire family is devastated by the loss of Shamba‚” Chrissy said.
The family moved to South Africa from the UK 30 years ago and opened the sanctuary to the public in 2010.
The family have asked for privacy during this traumatic time.
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