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South African killed by lions he hand-reared

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A South African conservationist was earlier in the week killed by lions he hand-reared, the UK Guardian reported.

69-year-old West Mathewson was walking two white lionesses on Wednesday when one of the animals attacked and killed him without warning, his family said.

The incident took place on the premises of the family-owned Lion Tree Top Lodge, in South Africa’s northern Limpopo province.

Mathewson, known as “Uncle West”, raised the lions since they were cubs and was used to interacting with them.

Gill, the late Mathewson’s wife, said she was driving behind her husband when the lion attacked.

“She tried her best to rescue her husband, but was unable to do so,” family attorney Marina Botha said in a statement.

The two  white lions reportedly escaped from the lodge and killed a man working at a neighbouring property, Ngama Lodge. That was in 2017. Mathewson said at the time that the lions were not aggressive and that he walks with them three to four hours a day.

“The family is heartbroken by the loss of their husband, father and grandfather,” the statement from Botha said. “They find comfort and peace with the fact that he died while living his dream, being in nature and with his lions.”

The lions has been temporarily moved to a facility while a decision on their future is made.

The family assured they would be “released into the best environment available to them”.

 

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