A conservationist has died after he was mauled by two of his own lions as he took them for a morning walk.
West Mathewson, 69, ran the popular Lion Treetop safari lodge in Limpopo province, South Africa, along with his wife.
She reportedly witnessed the sudden attack, which took place at around 8.30am local time on Wednesday.
Local police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo told reporters: “It is believed that the two lionesses attacked the deceased during one of their usual walks.
“The incident allegedly took place while his wife was helplessly watching.”
The wife of West Mathewson, who followed in a car, tried to distract the lions but it was too late.
He ran a popular safari lodge, Lion Tree Top Lodge, in Limpopo province.
A lioness became aggressive towards the other and then turned her attention to the conservationist affectionately known as “Uncle West”, according to BBC.
His relatives have said that Wednesday’s attack could have been the result of very rough play.
The lionesses were tranquillised following the attack and have been taken to an endangered species centre.
Mr Mathewson is said to have rescued the lions from “canned hunting” – when animals are hunted in an enclosed area, or they are bred to be hunted – and they were kept in an enclosure at his lodge.
The lionesses reportedly killed a man working on a neighbouring property after they broke out of the enclosure in 2017.