South African Park Reopens; Won’t Euthanise Lion That Killed American Woman

By @vitthernandez on
Lion
(IN PHOTO) National Park Service photo of the Griffith Park mountain lion known as P-22 is shown in this remote camera image set up on a fresh deer kill in Griffith Park in this November 2014 photo. The mountain lion was found on April 13, 2015 taking refuge in the crawl space under a Los Angeles house and resisting all efforts to evict him. Reuters

 The Lion Park in South Africa, a popular tourist destination, reopened on Tuesday – a day after a lioness killed an American tourist who didn’t follow the park’s rolled up windows policy. Operators of the park said the female lion that bit the woman won’t be euthanised, stressing that it is not an option.

However, the area where the attack happened was cordoned off, reports The Telegraph. Police took the victim’s camera to provide investigators what provoked the attack since the device may have recorded the incident. The lioness - which had been mating and had cubs - that attacked Chappell has been caged, ABC reports.

Besides the 22-year-old victim’s camera, probers are also planning to interview the witnesses to the incident, including two families who have turned over their cameras. According to these witnesses, the window of the woman’s vehicle was fully down, contrary to the park’s policy, disclosed park spokesman Scott Simpson.

“Apparently they parked a few metres away from the pride and the lioness started walking towards the vehicle and they took pictures. The lion then stopped a metre away and sat and watched them and then quite unexpectedly lunged at the vehicle,” Simpson said.

He stressed that the lions are not hungry to attack humans for food because the animals are fed very often. While there had been previous incidents of people being injured by the lions, it is the first time that the park, which has about 200,000 visitors yearly, had a fatality.

One theory suggested by Professor Graham Kerley from the Centre for African Conservation Ecology in Port Elizabeth is that the lion might have been irritated by the nearness of the victim, whom the US Embassy said would not be named. However, ABC, which cited several sources, named the victim as Katherine Chappell. “A metre is well within persona spaces for lions,” Kerley points out.

Kerley said many park visitors have become complacent to the lion’s fierceness because of a false sense of security while within the park. “We think they are big tame animals but they are not domestic animals,” he stresses.

He agrees with the park’s decision not to cull the lion. Kerley explains that while there are some instances when the beast develops Maneater Syndrome wherein it learns to target human, in a one-off event such as what happened on Monday, “it becomes very difficult to justify killing the animal.”

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