A Man Attacked by his Lion

Michael Hodge (72), the owner of Marakele Predator Centre, a private game reserve near Thabazimbi in Limpopo (South Africa), was mauled by a lion in his private game reserve. Shamba, as the lion is called, attacked Hodge and left him fighting for his life.

Hodge was in Shamba's camp and some tourists were in a vehicle, which had a protective cage. The ‘Lion Mobile’ attraction features a vehicle fitted with a cage in which tourists sit. Hodge is then known to throw meat on top of the vehicle on which, Shamba, would jump on. This was apparently a procedure, that he usually gets out of the vehicle to open the camp's gate before they drive out. Someone outside the camp would then take Shamba's attention off so that he walks away from the vehicle and the gate. Mike does this regularly. Shamba mysteriously turned around on this particular day.

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The lion was quick to spot him and chased him as he ran for a metal gate. The lion then dragged him into nearby bushes, where he laid motionless. The lion dragged Hodge from the vehicle and a staff member outside of the camp shot and killed Shamba to save Hodge's life. One of the tourists on the tour had a revolver on him and shot into the air to try and scare the lion off. When Mike’s daughter heard the shot, she ran to the scene and instructed the tourist to shoot the lion.

Family spokesperson Bernadette Maguire told News24 on Wednesday morning that Hodge was recovering in hospital, but that he was still traumatised after the incident. According to the spokesperson, Shamba was “bottled raised” since birth and Hodge was very upset over the loss of the lion whom he has owned for ten years.

Michael and Chrissy Hodge came to South Africa in 1999 from the United Kingdom (UK). They began with their lion project in 2003 on a farm 30kms from Thabazimbi and the Marakele Animal Sanctuary was formed in December 2010. The park offers no hunting and is purely for conservation purposes.
The National Council of SPCAs has strongly condemned the killing of a lion that attacked Hodge while in captivity, calling it unnecessary. It is reported that a staff member outside of the camp shot and killed Shamba to save Hodge's life. 

"This incident highlights the very reason why wild animals should not be kept in captivity and further indicates that the public should stop supporting facilities that keep wild animals in captivity,” says Martie Rossouw, manager of the NSPCA Wildlife Protection Unit.

The death of the lion (Shamba) also attracted a lot of Social Media attention and drove serious divisions amongst black and white people. A lot of black people were aggrieved by the death of Shamba causing the RIPShamba hashtag to trend on the country. They feel Shamba was in his rightful land, Hodge is the one who was invading in the lion’s private space, so they feel it was unfair to killer Shamba in defending an intruder.