A safari park tracker searching for cheetahs for wealthy tourists was tragically ambushed and eaten alive by two lions.
The tragic Malibongwe Mfila, 27, was alone exploring 22,000 hectares of Marakele National Park in South Africa when the tragedy struck.
He followed the cheetahs at the Marataba Safari Lodge as he got out of his jeep and decided to follow them on foot.
But within just 20 meters, two young male lions, camouflaged in a thicket, jumped out.
Another driver in the area who saw the lions attack the man alerted emergency services.
The lions were then euthanized and an autopsy is ongoing, Marataba’s park management confirmed.
The South African police spokeswoman Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo confirmed that the young ranger was attacked and killed by the lions who were later shot.
He said, “He was busy driving around in the bush looking for animals like elephants and lions to tell guides where to go on game drives.
“He reportedly stopped his vehicle and got out. As he walked off the road, he was suddenly attacked and killed by two lions,” he said.
South African National Parks Spokesman Reynold Thakhuli said: “When he died, he was pursuing wildlife as part of his normal duties for Marataba.
“He was following cheetah tracks and appears to have got out of the vehicle and only walked 20 meters when he came across two male lions.
“They attacked and killed him,” he said.
Robert More, CEO and owner of the More Family Collection, which owns the luxury safari lodge for £ 750 a night, paid tribute to their tracker.
He said, “Malibongwe was an integral part of the field leadership team at Marataba Luxury Lodges and promised a very prosperous future.
“The Marataba family is devastated by his loss and his sunny mood coupled with his natural talent will be sorely missed by all of us here,” he said.
The Safari Lodge is a four-hour drive from Johannesburg at the foot of the Waterberg Mountains in Limpopo Province and is home to the Big 5, namely lions, leopards, buffalo, rhinos and elephants.
It was Malibongwe’s job to find out where they were and relay radio details to rangers.
Weighing up to 500 pounds and measuring up to seven feet in length, the male lion is one of Africa’s most dangerous predators.