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Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Lion safari ~ woman ignoring basic instruction loses life !!!

Many are happy looking at animals ~that way it was a great move when the Zoo housed in Lily Pond complex [Moore Market] nearer Central Station, Madras  was shifted to the sprawling Vandalur reserve forest in 1985.  It was stated that animals can enjoy more space and natural environ ! -  World over there are Zoological parks housing animals, some in their natural habitats – they are all frequented by people and enjoyed.  There is also criticism that howsoever good the maintenance be, animals are best left in their natural surroundings and a caged enclosure or enclosure in any other manner, is not good for them !  Then there are Safaris and game reserves – where freely-roaming  animals are seen, photographed and enjoyed by tourists travelling in caged vehicles.  In Africa, in places like Kenya there are big game reserves encompassing acres of land.

Lion Park is a 2 km² (500 acre) lion wildlife conservation enclosure in Gauteng province in South Africa.  It is  situated near Lanseria Airport and Fourways within distance of Johannesburg and Pretoria. The park has a large variety of predators and large herbivores indigenous to Africa. The Lion Park is home to over 80 lions including the rare white lions and many other carnivores such as cheetah, wild dog, brown and spotted hyena, black backed jackal, and a wide variety of antelope which roam freely in the antelope area.

It is in news for wrong reasons – an American tourist who was mauled to death by a lion took pictures of the cat who killed her just seconds before she pounced, it is emerging.   Police are examining the last haunting photographs taken by the woman as evidence that she had ignored warnings to keep her windows closed as she toured the South African safari park. Traumatised tourists who watched as the nine-year-old lioness killed the holidaymaker, 22, through an open window have also handed over pictures of the fatal attack.

The woman aged 22 was dragged and mauled to death by a lion as she left the car window open during the safari.  Another person in the vehicle was seriously injured.  Two families were reportedly  driving only metres away from the car  and they informed the police that she was photographing the cat as it approached her vehicle, which was being driven by a local tour guide.  Six adult witnesses, including two visitors from India, gave their own photographs of the attack and statements to police confirming that both front windows of the victim’s car were open throughout her visit to the 20-acre enclosure, where she was attacked.

The Operations  manager at the Lion Park is quoted as telling MailOnline that the woman was photographing the lioness keeping the window open until the moment the lion attacked and the camera of the dead lady was taken by police as evidence.   In what appears to be an act of foolishness, both the front doors seemingly were left open as the lioness attacked, while some other lions too watched from a distance.   The tour guide, who is South African, is recovering in hospital with serious injuries to his arms after attempting to prise his client from the lion’s jaws. He is expected to be interviewed by police later. 

The tourist and the guide were taking a 'routine' drive through the 20-acre compound containing about a dozen big cats near Johannesburg; the lion reportedly approached from the left of the vehicle, the passenger side and walked quite close to the car.  The U.S. Embassy confirmed the young woman was an American citizen through its Twitter account.  'Out of respect for the privacy of the family, we will not be releasing the name or commenting any further,' they tweeted further.  The American woman's death was the third big cat attack in four months and all visitors are instructed to keep all windows shut.  The park, which has attracted many celebrities  has more than 85 lions, including rare white lions, and a variety of other animals, including giraffes and ostriches.

According to its website, Lion Park guarantees 'super close-up animal views' but it does order visitors to keep their car windows shut.  The park has previously come under fire for allowing visitors to pet lion cubs. It was also accused of breeding lions for 'canned hunting', a charge that the park has refuted.  The park claims that safety instructions are clearly in place, there are signages and flyers informing people to keep the windows closed.  Sad, that somebody chose to ignore all and ended up losing life tragically.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

3rd June 2015.

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