WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
Three lions that ate a South African park ranger alive could be saved from death after a petition from 37,000 animal lovers demanded they should be spared.
Wildlife worker Johannes Matshe was devoured by the big cats as he bafflingly walked across their territory at night, something strictly forbidden by park rules.
The 30-year-old’s grisly remains were found by a fencing crew on the Dinokeng Reserve Management, Gauteng province, the next day on 14th August.
Gruesome photos show there was little left behind but a lower leg stripped of flesh with the foot still wearing a red Converse high top.
Wildlife reserve officials had requested a permit from the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Environment to euthanise the lions.
But now animal lovers are trying to save the lions blaming the ranger for his own death by breaking strict parkland rules, reports local media.
They say the lions were only doing what came naturally and he had no business being there on foot.
Petition organiser Dif Los told local media: “Last Sunday night, a man chose to not wait for his employer to drive him from the reserve gate to his place of residence/work situated within the park.
“He had a momentary lapse of judgement, as we all do sometimes, and decided to take the chance at walking.
“The group of male lions attacked him. A tragic error in judgement on his part, ending his life and subsequently placing the lions lives in danger as well.”
South African Police Service are investigating the death.
Reserve spokesperson Hartogh Streicher insisted no final decision had been made on whether to kill the lions.
He explained: “Concerning the management of the lions responsible for this killing, no decision has been reached whether they have become unnaturally dangerous, but the reserve is receiving expert advice to make the most responsible decision possible for all parties concerned.”
He went on: “This incident underscores the necessity of caution when interacting with the reserve’s wildlife.
“By adhering to the rules and practising responsible behaviour, a safer environment can be ensured for everyone.
“An investigation is currently underway.”
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Story By: Simona Kitanovska, Sub-Editor: Marija Stojkoska, Agency: Newsflash
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