Briton, 19, is killed and eaten by pride of lions

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A STARVING, injured lioness and apparent errors by a safari guide led to a British public schoolboy being killed and eaten after being dragged screaming from his tent in the early hours of Sunday.

David Pleydell-Bouverie, 19, was acting as an apprentice guide on a photographic walking safari in Zimbabwe when a pride of lions, led by a lioness with a broken leg, attacked looking for easy food. Game rangers found parts of his dismembered body up to 20 metres from his tent, and confirmed that some of his clothing and body parts were found inside the stomachs of two of the lions which had been tracked and shot.

The teenager, who was the nephew of the Earl of Radnor, was having an extended stay in Zimbabwe during his gap year after leaving Harrow school last year. He was due to start a history degree at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in October.

His grieving father, Richard Pleydell-Bouverie, the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire, described the killing as the "most unbearable and appalling tragedy". His mother, Victoria, is expected to arrive today at the Changachirere Camp where the tragedy happened, part of the Matusadona National Park, 300 miles north-west of Harare.

The British High Commission has sent diplomats to the area to monitor the investigation into the attack.

A spokesman for the wildlife police service in Harare, said last night: "This particular pride is one that is often seen by tourists in the area and there has been no history of man-eating attacks in the past.

"But the group was led by an old she-lion who was struggling with a broken leg. We believe she attacked out of hunger, the camp provided a relatively straightforward target."

Bradley Fouche, the guide with the group who was sharing a tent with the young man, set fire to his shirt to scare away the lions after being woken by screams at 1am. His rifle was in a vehicle 100 yards away.

The guide was also criticised for sleeping in a tent away from the main group of tourists, and for having the tent flaps unzipped. Lions will not attack a tent if they cannot see inside it. He is expected to face disciplinary charges and could lose his professional licence.

Last night the head of the safari company spoke of his shock and sadness at the death. "David was in the company of a highly respected guide with a reputation for steadiness and safety," said Ivan Carter, of Ivan Carter Safari."This has been an extremely tragic event and the first time a person has been killed in this manner on a photographic safari."