This alarming trend compelled us in June to start our Talking Point with the question: “Are animals just being animals or are people breaking the rules?”
Here are the five unfortunate, and some tragic, human encounters with feline ferocity in 2015 alone:
Lion – Johannesburg
An American tourist was mauled to death by a lioness from her vehicle at the Lion Park in Lanseria, in the north of Johannesburg, on June 1.
The woman was later identified as 29-year-old Katherine Chappell, a special effects editor who worked on an Emmy-winning episode of the popular Game of Thrones series. She also worked on Captain America: The Winter Soldier, among a host of other Hollywood films, Daily Mail reported.
Another passenger was injured during the incident.
Tour owner Pierre Potgieter, 66, was the driver of the vehicle at the time of the incident and denied they were driving around the lion enclosures with open windows, as has been suggested by some sources in the media, a statement read.
Members and employees at Lion Park have since conducted a series of meetings to address the problem of people not obeying crucial rules when visiting the venue. This would possibly include a “shock tactic”, warning visitors of previous incidents at the park, spokesperson Scott Simpson said.
Leopard – Kruger National Park
Video footage emerged last month showing a leopard attacking a tour guide in the Kruger National Park (KNP), just outside Skukuza Camp, in Mpumalanga. In the footage, a convoy of vehicles is seen on a road while the predator is seen attempting to climb into the vehicle.
Wife of managing director of Nhongo Safaris, Verity Cherry, said Plumb apparently tried to push the leopard out of the vehicle with his arm when it attacked him.
He was taken to Mediclinic, where he had a surgery on his arm.
Conservation expert Gerrie Camacho said the attack on Plumb was not because the animal had been crazy but because it was angry.
“The leopard wasn’t ‘crazy’; you could see it was very, very angry. I personally think all the vehicles around it and the consequent noise added to its irritation levels. And you know what? If a predator decides to take some or other action, it will do its best to finish it,” he said.
The leopard was later euthanised.
Lion – Johannesburg
At the same lion park where Katherine Chappel was killed, months before that incident, an Australian tourist was bitten by a lion and rushed to hospital for his leg injuries. The tourist, Brendan Smith, had been in South Africa for less than two days when the incident occurred on Thursday, March 26.
According to the Lion Park assistant operations manager Scott Simpson, Smith was driving through the park with his friend. The two visitors stopped and got out of the vehicle to take a picture. A lioness then stuck its head through an open window of the car and bit Smith on his left leg.
Cheetah – near Ladysmith
A cheetah bit a Grade 4 schoolboy from Pietermaritzburg at a game reserve near Ladysmith, KwaZulu-Natal, last week Thursday. The pupil from Cowan House Preparatory was on a school outing when a cheetah managed to force itself through a game fence and locked on to the child’s backpack, pulling him towards the fence.
The unnamed boy received immediate medical attention for bite wounds and was also hospitalised to clean the wounds to reduce chances of long-term damage. He is expected to make a full ‘recovery’.
Leopard – Zimbabwe
In Zimbabwe, canines came in to save a Zimbabwean man when a leopard reportedly dropped on him from a tree in February.
Gift Moyo, 24, was trying to find his donkeys early Wednesday morning with his seven dogs in Bulilima, southern Zimbabwe, when the lion attacked, the Bulawayo daily newspaper The Chronicle reported.
Moyo told the paper that his dogs started growling before he was attacked by the leopard. “I was startled. Before I could recover, the leopard jumped onto my head and scratched me. It then grabbed me by the left arm and I fell onto the ground. The animal maintained its grip,” he said.
Moyo had to hold onto the leopard’s ear and paw as it struggled to reach his neck. After his dogs fought off the animal, Moyo fought the temptation to stay where he was.
Bleeding and in pain, Moyo managed to walk the 10km back to his home in Male Village. Villagers rushed him to hospital, where he was said to be recovering.