A safari park tracker in Limpopo, South Africa, was tragically attacked and mauled to death by two lions on Sunday morning, 7 March 2021, while he was following the tracks of a pair of cheetahs.
Malibongwe Mfila, 27, had seen the spoor divert off the dirt road he was following in his jeep, and stopped to track where they went on foot. He was on a search for wild game for tourists to view.
But sadly, within less than 20 metres of the track, Mfila was attacked by two young male lions.
He had been alone, scouting the 22,000 hectare grounds in his vehicle at the Marataba Safari Lodge in the Marakele National Park for signs of the Big 5. The Park’s manager, Mphandeni Nthangeni, said he received a call early on Sunday morning informing him about the incident involving a tracker being mauled by lions in the contractual land within the national park.
South African Police (SAPS) spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo confirmed the young ranger was attacked and killed by the lions who were later shot.
The Brigadier 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.”
Brig. Mojapelo said another driver in the park spotted the two lions still eating the employee. The driver summoned help and the lions were shot.
South African National Parks (SANParks) spokesman Reynold Thakhuli confirmed: “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 metres when he came upon two male lions.
“They attacked and killed him.”
This incident has left us distraught
SANParks Chief Executive Officer, Fundisile Mketeni said: “This incident has left us distraught; and condolences to the family, friends and staff at Marataba Contractual Park during this difficult time.”
Marataba’s Park Management confirmed two young male lions had been euthanised and that post mortems were being conducted on both.
Robert More, who is CEO and owner of the More Family Collection which owns the luxury £750 a night safari lodge, paid tribute to their friendly 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.”
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 (lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo, rhino and elephant). Malibongwe’s job was to try and scout out where they were, and radio details to game rangers.
One of his friends wrote on Facebook: “So sad, such a humble guy, forever smiling 💔💔 i am so torn…”
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