Shamba's death was more painful than my injuries: lion sanctuary owner

10 May 2018 - 15:09 By Naledi Shange
The lion attack in Limpopo was caught on camera.
The lion attack in Limpopo was caught on camera.
Image: Facebook/Kevin Wright

The Hodge family is yet to decide whether it will open the gates of their Marakele Animal Sanctuary again after it was forced to put down one of its lions following an attack on the facility’s owner.

Family spokesperson Bernadette Maguire said the death of the lion‚ named Shamba‚ had been a huge setback to the family‚ adding that they were traumatised and upset.

"The incident [Shamba's killing] has been more painful for him than the injuries he suffered‚" Maguire said‚ referring to Michael Hodge‚ one of the sanctuary owners who was mauled by Shamba.

She said "only time will tell" whether the couple will reopen the gates of the sanctuary.

A video of Hodge been taken down by the lion and dragged by his neck at the Thabazimbi lodge went viral several weeks ago. The 10-yea-old Shamba had been hand-reared by the 72-year-old Hodge since birth.

He had entered an enclosure where Shamba was and could not get out in time as the lion unexpectedly attacked him. Shamba was killed as rangers tried to extricate Hodge from the enclosure.

Maguire told TimesLIVE that Hodge had undergone surgery last week and was to be discharged from hospital.

"He is going to be discharged from hospital today‚" said Maguire.

In its promotion on its website‚ the sanctuary had promised that for R70 an adult and R30 a child‚ guests can visit the camp in a “lion mobile” car where Shamba will “jump up and look you in the eyes”.

“He also sits on top of the truck whilst we take the drive through the camp‚” the promotion states.

The website has since been removed as the future of the sanctuary is yet to be determined.