Watch the moment a huge lion hugs a man

Conservationist Valentin Gruener co-founded a project to protect African wildlife, developing a close bond with this one lioness

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The Independent Online

Watch the moment a huge lioness launches herself towards a defenceless man – only to give him a hug.

Valentin Gruener, one of the co-founders of the Modisa Wildlife Project in Botswana, has developed close bonds with some of the lions under his care, especially this lioness who he raised from a cub.

Their touching reunion was filmed by Jonathan Hawker, a teacher living in Seoul, South Korea, who was visiting the project.

In the video the lioness can be seen pacing eagerly behind the wire fence, before springing through the gate opened by Mr Gruener and into his arms.

The lioness is just one of the animals under the care of the Modisa Wildlife Project, founded after Mr Gruener from Germany, and Mikkel Legarth from Denmark, met in 2009 as volunteers in Africa.

Their project places an emphasis on creating a bond between people and the wilderness, working to guard the wildlife of Botswana by promoting involvement and enhanced biodiversity in the local region.

In Setswana, the local language of the region in central Botswana where they work, Modisa means guardian.