Man fights off angry lion and lives to tell the tale
Several stitches crisscross his head and his left arm lies limply in a sling, the aftermath of a hunting expedition that spiraled dangerously out of control.
Action Maposa gingerly walks towards a chair and carefully lowers himself to take a seat.
Eight days earlier, a wounded lion sunk its canines into the 47-year-old’s skull. Unable to burst her prey’s skull, the injured feline then turned her attention to Maposa’s arm, chewing on his limb in her eagerness to get even with the man who had just shot her.
A build-up of puss is visible on his swollen arm, behind his right ear the torn lower lip where the lion had ripped her sharp claws.
Maposa admits he is lucky to be alive after staring death in the eye during what he estimates was a 15-minute standoff with a female lion.
Narrating his ordeal, the ‘Lion King’ from Maposa village, roughly 10km from Nata, revealed he set off with two friends at around 7pm on 19 September after kraaling their cattle.
“We headed deep into the bush to a camp of grass harvesters. On our way, we spotted lion tracks. However, we did not tell anyone in the camp since we didn’t want to cause panic,” Maposa told The Voice in an exclusive interview.
Early the next morning, the trio went in search of their horse, which was grazing in the surrounding bush.
To their dismay, they found fresh lions tracks on the trail of the lone horse a few kilometres from the camp.
Minutes later their worst fear was confirmed.
“It wasn’t long before we found our horse dead. The lions didn’t even eat it; they just drank juices from the innards. That’s what lions usually do when water is hard to come by,” he explained.
The Maposa man, who’s a well-known marksman in the village, said a decision was then made to trek the three lions.
“The tracks eventually led us to a dense thicket where we spotted one of the lions lying down on an elevated spot facing us. We moved to within 100metres of the lion, and although we couldn’t see the other two lions, we knew they were somewhere in the vicinity,” Maposa said as he carefully waved away flies drawn to his seeping arm.
“I took aim and fired. The lion roared in pain as the bullet hit but when I tried to reload my pump action had jammed,” reveals Maposa, speaking animatedly as he recounts his death-defying encounter.
In a unfortunate stroke of bad luck, Maposa said the second gunner was also experiencing technical problems with his weapon as the wounded lion charged towards them with frightening speed.
“It went straight for me. I put my gun down a moment before it leapt off the ground to grab me. Luckily I moved out of the way in time, but a sharp claw caught my right arm and sent me tumbling to the ground!”
Maposa’s initial reaction was to flee but before he could run the lion sunk its teeth into his skull, sending warm blood trickling down his neck.
“I went for its throat and choked it. It let go of my head and grabbed my arm. Luckily for me, my mate had sorted his gun and he moved closer to finish it off,” he concluded simply.
However, despite his bravery and losing his horse, no compensation will be coming Maposa’s way according to Regional Wildflife Officer – Central, Phemelo Gadimang.
He explained that compensation only applies if Maposa had reported the animal to their office.
“He’s lucky to be alive. The lion was wounded from the shot otherwise it would certainly have killed him,” warned Gadimang.
The wildlife officer advised farmers to use the right weapons when they hunt wild animals or engage trained wildlife officers to avoid loss of life.