A South African man, West Mathewson has been mauled to death by two white lions while his wife watched on “helplessly,” says police in northern Limpopo province.
Mathewson, 69 was killed by two of his lions during a walk on Wednesday morning around the game lodge that he operates, police said.
When police and emergency services arrived Mathewson was dead with multiple injuries.
West Mathewson was mauled by two white lions at his game reserve in South Africa.
“The deceased used to walk about with these lions on the game farm,” according to Brigadier Motlafela.
“It looks like the lions were used to him, but as the police we often warn people to always be wary of wild animals regardless of the circumstances under which they are kept,” he added.
Mathewson’s daughter-in-law Tehri Fergusson, told newsmen it was unclear why the lions had killed him but said they had not tried to eat him, suggesting his death could have been the result of “rough play”.
“We will only know why he died when we have the results of the autopsy,” she said.
“We have to realise West was not as young as he thought he was. We are still not sure what actually happened but there was very rough play.”
Mathewson’s wife Gill, 65, stepped in to try to save her husband from the two 400lb (180kg) animals but the lions had already inflicted fatal injuries, according to the police.
The pair of lions had previously killed another man. In 2017, they both broke out of their enclosure by climbing up a tree and jumping over the fence and attacked a worker and his friend on a neighbouring property.
At the time, Mathewson stressed that the pair of lions were friendly and not aggressive and that he walked them for three to four hours per day.
The Mathewson family runs a safari company named Lion Tree Top Lodge, near the town of Hoedspruit, about 280 miles northwest of Johannesburg.
Ms Fergusson said the lions had been tranquilised and temporarily moved to a shelter for endangered animals.
Ms Fergusson said: “They are in a safe place now and they will be cared for and loved, and then they will be let loose into the wild, but they will not be returning here.”