A game ranger from Etosha National Park and a local farm worker in the Oshikoto Region survived a lioness attack on Sunday following a hot pursuit to track the pride of three that killed a cow at Kalangula farm last Saturday.
The two victims were admitted to the Tsumeb State Hospital on Sunday with serious to minor injuries to their legs, thighs, arms and backs. However their condition has stabilised.
The incident happened at Joseph Ehafo farm around 10am when the two victims had caught up with the big cats after they had killed and devoured a cow. The two men lucky to be alive were identified as Linus Titus of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and Petrus Ndilimani, a worker at Kalangula farm.
Titus’ colleague, identified as Toivo Shivute, was lucky not to be attacked at all as he was away to collect the vehicle when the incident took place.
Ndilimani was transferred yesterday afternoon to Oshakati State Hospital for orthopaedic care as he suffered a fractured arm. Tsumeb hospital does not have an orthopaedic unit.
“It just happened so fast, after my colleague went to get the car, which was very far from where we were. When he (Shivute) was gone to fetch the car we decided to track further and hardly a few metres from there we came across the lion, in close proximity to us, five to 10 metres away. Then the lion charged fiercely towards us and I started shooting. Luckily some bullets hit her and she retreated,” Titus narrated their ordeal from hospital.
“Just after we followed it not far from where we had shot it, we met again at close proximity. My partner then asked if I was seeing the same thing and while we were still aiming, it charged us while running in a zigzag way, making it difficult for us to aim and this time it was very aggressive. I ran out of bullets and it caught up with me and bit me on my left. I then started fighting back by kicking it with my right leg, but then it bit me on the thigh and tried to grab me by the throat. I then held it in the neck with my left hand with the right in the mouth,” recollected Titus, who has been working as game guard for 20 years but described the incident as horrific and the most terrifying in his entire career.
He said this was his sixth encounter with lions but in the others he had escaped unhurt.
Titus said he shouted to his partner “Shoot, shoot, don’t worry about me” while he was wrestling with the lion. However things turned nasty for Ndilimani when he shot at the lion and it turned back and charged him and bit his left arm while he was holding the gun and injured him on the back.
“At that moment I could not move anymore; I was becoming powerless, and I shouted to him (Ndilimani) to be still and avoid too much movements as I reached for bullets in my backpack.
“Then I managed and started shouting at it, and that’s how we killed it. Literally the lion died on top of my partner and in the process the gun was damaged,” recounted Titus.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Environemnt and Tourism Deputy Minister Tommy Nambahu visited the two in hospital yesterday and took them some food. He commended them for their bravery saying that their act was a heroic one and that one in a million can survive and withstand such an attack by a lioness.
“We will take responsibility for the victims including Ndilimani who is not part of our workforce, but his input cannot be overlooked as it was a heroic deed. I will talk to the technical people and find out what measures and benefits we can assist him with,” said Nambahu.
He said that with regard to the MET staff the incident is a duty related one and all the laws that apply to all civil servants in similar incidences will be applicable.
“We are working on strengthening the policies so that they cater for those that are injured during human-wildlife conflict, as the one in place only caters for the loss of life, not the injured,” added Nambahu.