Man Attacked by Lion Says He Felt Its Claws 'Slicing Off My Flesh'

A man has described the moment he was attacked by a lion in a village in Namibia, where human-wildlife conflict is a constant issue.

Chika Mabuku, from Luchindo Village in the Ngoma area of Namibia's Zambezi Region, an area that straddles Botswana, Angola, Zambia and Zimbabwe, sustained grisly injuries to his lower left leg—but could well have lost his life in the attack.

Mabuku was part of a group of trackers and armed nature conservation officials from Namibia's Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, who managed to locate a lion that had reportedly killed two heads of cattle in the village.

The group shot at the lion from a distance, but it charged at them and the men retreated, leaving Mabuku stranded on his own with the animal.

"I stood holding my shotgun in my hands as the lion charged at me. Suddenly it jumped up in the sky, reaching for me," he told the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation.

"I shot at it while it was in the air and tried to move out of the way, but it lifted its left claw and got hold of my foot and I fell to the ground.

"I was, however, still holding on to the firearm and managed to shoot it in the head, and it roared a last time and died.

"I remember feeling how its claws were slicing off my flesh."

However, that was far from the end of Mabuku's ordeal. He said that the nature conservation officials and trackers who had taken flight when the lion first charged at them then started shooting at the cat again, unaware that it was already dead.

Having been injured by the lion, Mabuku was lying alongside it and was therefore in the firing line, and he had to scream at the top of his voice to get his colleagues to stop shooting.

Graphic images of Mabuku's leg in the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation's report show a bloody wound that stretches from the top of his ankle to midway up his shin, and his leg was heavily strapped up with bandages in the aftermath of the attack.

Conflict between humans and wild animals, most often lions, elephants, rhinos and leopards, is a common issue in Namibia, and animals that are considered to pose a danger to humans, their land or livestock are often relocated or killed.

Earlier this year, scientists revealed that painting artificial eyes on cows' rumps can deter lions and other predators.

Between 2015 and 2018 they conducted a series of experiments in Botswana, where they painted eyes on approximately one-third of 2,061 subject cattle. Another third of the animals were marked with crosses in white or black, and the final third were left unmarked.

15 of the unmarked cows were killed by lions, and four of the cows that had been marked with crosses were too, but none of the cows with painted eyespots lost their lives.

"In combination with other techniques, successful implementation of this technique may increase the tolerance of farmers towards large predators, reduce the application of lethal control, and increase the sustainability of the system overall," the researchers wrote.

Poaching is a major issue in Namibia, though officials have reportedly said that they have registered a reduction in 2020 from last year.

Namibia's Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism said that 23 rhinos and two elephants had been lost to poachers this year, compared with 46 rhinos and 13 elephants in 2019.

A male lion snarls
A stock image shows a snarling male lion, unrelated to the animal that attacked Chika Mabuku. He survived a mauling by a lion in Luchindo Village in Namibia, but was then almost accidentally shot by his colleagues. Getty Images