A safari park tracker who was searching for cheetahs for rich tourists was tragically ambushed and eaten alive by two lions.
Tragic Malibongwe Mfila, 27, was out alone scouting the 22,000-hectare grounds in Marakele National Park, South Africa, when the tragedy occurred.
He was following the spoor of cheetahs in the Marataba Safari Lodge when he got out of his jeep as he decided to follow them on foot. But within just 20 meters two young male lions who were lying camouflaged in a thicket leaped out. Another driver in the area who saw the lions attacking the man alerted the emergency services. The lions were then euthanized and a post-mortem is underway, Marataba’s Park Management confirmed.
South African Police spokesman Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo confirmed the young ranger was attacked and killed by the lions who were later shot. He said: “He was busy driving around in the bush looking for animals like elephants and lions in order to tell the guides where to do game drives. He reportedly stopped his vehicle and got out and as he was walking away from the road he was suddenly attacked and killed by two lions,” he said.
South African National Parks spokesman Reynold Thakhuli said: “He was tracking wildlife as part of his usual duties for Marataba when he died. “He was following up on cheetah tracks and appears to have alighted from the vehicle and had walked just 20 meters when he came upon two male lions. They attacked and killed him,” he said.
Robert More who is CEO and owner of the More Family Collection which owns the luxury Sh110,000 (£750) a night safari lodge paid tribute to their tracker. He said: “Malibongwe was an integral part of the Marataba Luxury Lodges field guiding team and had great promise for a very successful future. The Marataba family is devastated by his loss and his sunny disposition coupled with his natural talent will be sorely missed by us all here” he said.
The safari lodge is a four-hour drive from Johannesburg at the foot of the Waterberg Mountains in Limpopo Province and is home to the Big 5, namely lions, leopards, buffalos, rhinos, and elephants. It was Malibongwe’s job to try and scout out where they were and radio details to game rangers. Weighing up to 500lbs and being up to seven feet in length, the male lion is one of Africa's most dangerous predators.