A lioness that mauled a woman to death in a South African wildlife park was being taken for a walk by a self-styled ‘lion whisperer’ when it launched the attack, it has emerged.
The 22-year-old visitor died from devastating injuries after being pounced on by a lioness named Ndira while it was out walking with expert and social media star Kevin Richardson in the Dinokeng Game Reserve.
The 44-year-old, whose intimate interactions with big cats have won him millions of fans around the world, said today: ‘I am devastated and my heart goes out to this young woman’s family.’
Ndira, who was hand-reared by Mr Richardson, may meet the same fate as her victim as the park said ‘no decision has been made at this stage about what will happen to her’.
The 22-year-old visitor died from devastating injuries after being pounced on by a lioness named Ndira as the big cat was out walking with expert Kevin Richardson (pictured)
Richardson explained how he was taking two males and the lioness for their weekly walk in the reserve when Ndira ran off after an antelope before coming across her helpless human victim.
The dead woman who was only at the reserve for a short meeting was struck as she stopped to take pictures with a friend as they returned to their car.
After receiving an urgent call about the attack, Mr Richardson – who had pursued the lioness but lost her – then ran more than a mile to reach the victim, attempting to save her life himself while waiting for paramedics to arrive.
The 44-year-old social media star said on Wednesday: ‘I am devastated and my heart goes out to this young woman’s family.’
Richardson explained how he was taking two males and the lioness for their weekly walk in the Dinokeng Game Reserve when Ndira (not pictured) ran off after an antelope
His weekly walks with the cats are ‘part of their exercise and stimulation regiment,’ he explained in a statement, designed to relieve the boredom of living in the sanctuary’s enclosures.
Before setting off on the second of two such outings yesterday morning, he said he had notified others on the reserve that the predators would be roaming.
The father-of-two has built a successful business, managed by his wife, on the back of his unique relationship with big cats.
Visitors to his sanctuary, which is just an hour outside Johannesburg, is made up of 13 enclosures housing the cats, many of which he has raised from birth.
Visitors can pay to volunteer, take drives in safari vehicles or stay in the tented camp, near where the victim was taken down.
The website promises ‘you will enjoy the spectacular African bush and come face-to-face with majestic lions and hear their magnificent roars at night’.
Last week, he uploaded a picture to social media of his leg boasting vivid marks from a lion’s claw which had ripped the hem from his shorts after getting between two fighting males
Mr Richardson said weekly walks with the cats are ‘part of their exercise and stimulation regiment’ designed to relieve the boredom of living in the sanctuary’s enclosures
Only a few weeks ago, Mr Richardson was on set with supermodel Cara Delevingne who was posing with his lion Vayetse for a photoshoot for a luxury watch brand.
The ten year old cat was raised by the ‘lion whisperer’ from birth and regularly stars in films and adverts, earning huge sums for his owner’s business.
His pictures and videos of his intimate relationship with the beasts has won him a massive worldwide following.
Last week, he uploaded a picture to social media of his leg boasting vivid marks from a lion’s claw which had ripped the hem from his shorts after getting between two fighting males at his property.
Nick Dollman, spokesman for the paramedics, described the victim’s injuries as ‘very severe’.
‘It was a deadly attack. The friend with the victim watched it happen, but was not hurt, but must have been in a terrible state emotionally. Paramedics attempted CPR, but the injuries were so severe the victim died at the scene,’ he said.
Mr Richardson has spoken candidly in the past about the dangers of interacting with the animals
The Dinokeng Game Reserve is thought to be the only free-roaming ‘big 5’ residential game reserve in the world next to a residential area
The Dinokeng Game Reserve is thought to be the only free-roaming ‘big 5’ residential game reserve in the world next to a residential area. The big five refers to Africa’s most deadly animals.
Mr Richardson has spoken candidly in the past about the dangers of interacting with the animals.
‘Obviously one realises the danger when working with animals of this calibre, I’ve weighed the pros and I’ve weighed the cons, and the pros far outweigh the cons,’ he said.
The police have launched an investigation in the circumstances of the killing and the local authority said it would be looking into what permits are held by Mr Richardson to conduct his business.