Lion mauls British wildlife park owner at South African sanctuary, says report

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A British wildlife park owner has reportedly been mauled by a male lion in South Africa after entering its enclosure.

Shocking footage is believed to show Mike Hodge being pounced on by the predator as he tries to leave through a gate, before he is dragged off towards some bushes.

Horrified onlookers can be heard screaming as the video shows a man being attacked and pawed further by the big cat at Marakele Animal Sanctuary in Thabazimbi.

The Sun Online reports that Mr Hodge entered the lion’s enclosure over concerns about a smell in the compound that was upsetting the creature.

South African Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe told News24 that the incident happened on Monday, and saw a man suffer injuries to his neck and jaw.

“The owner was immediately taken to hospital with serious injuries. He is currently recuperating,” he added.

The animal park’s website states Mike and Chrissy Hodge moved to South Africa from the UK in 1999 and opened their lion project in 2003.

Realising a need for a tourist attraction closer to the town of Thabazimbi, they eventually opened the Marakele Animal Sanctuary in December 2010.

A friend who did not want to be named told the Sun Online: “He is no fool around lions and knows how to interact with them but clearly something went wrong.”

A spokeswoman for the Hodge family, Bernadette Maguire, has reportedly said in a statement that the incident happened as tourists were being shown around the sanctuary.

The statement said Mr Hodge is “only too aware of the dangers of working with wildlife but they remain his passion” despite the incident.

It also highlighted how the family are “devastated” at the death of the lion, raised from a cub by them, and who died as a result of the attack.

The lion in question is reportedly named Shamba, and the sanctuary’s website states that visitors can be driven to meet the lions in a purpose built “lion mobile”.

It is promised that “Shamba will jump up and look you in the eyes, he also sits on top of the truck whilst we take the drive through the camp”.

The sanctuary is home to number of big cats including tigers, as well as birds, monkeys and a whole collection of small animals, according to their website.

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