A water attendant has been mauled to death by a lioness at a South African game reserve.
The 45-year-old man and a colleague were walking through Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park to start pumping water to a nearby tourist lodge and staff camp when the incident happened, South African news website IOL reports.
Both men were unarmed when the lioness attacked at around 7.30am on Monday, and although a colleague ran to find help while the worker grappled with the beast, he was severely injured and died soon after.
It is believed the animal, which was tracked down and shot dead close to where the incident took place, was suffering from tuberculosis and so was unable to hunt its usual prey.
According to IOL, a wildlife official said: “I’m told he put up a hell of a fight – but a man is no match for a fully grown lioness, even if it is sick.”
The man, who was working for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, had been a water attendant at the park for 16 years, and was going about his daily routine which included firing up a diesel generator to pump water.
He was showing his colleague how to do the tasks as he was soon due to take some leave.
The website said the attack had raised some questions about the parks efforts to control bovine tuberculosis – the normal procedure is to destroy sick lions.
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is the oldest proclaimed nature reserve in Africa and is home to around 120 lions.