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Nature conservationalist attacked and killed by white lions he raised since they were cubs. Why?

Posted by Charmaine Anne MacDonald on September 04, 2020 - 12:03am Edited 9/4 at 12:11am

A South African conservationist has been killed by lions he hand-reared. West Mathewson, 69, was walking two white lionesses on Wednesday when one of the animals attacked and killed him without warning, his family said on Thursday.

The incident took place on the premises of the family-owned Lion Tree Top Lodge, in South Africa’s northern Limpopo province.

Known as “Uncle West”, Mathewson had raised the lions since they were cubs and was used to interacting with them.

Mathewson’s wife Gill, 65, was driving behind her husband when the lion attacked. “She tried her best to rescue her husband, but was unable to do so,” family attorney Marina Botha said in a statement.


In 2017, the two white lions reportedly escaped from the lodge and killed a man working at a neighbouring property, Ngama Lodge. Mathewson said at the time that the lions were not aggressive and that he walks with them three to four hours a day.

The lions have be temporarily moved to a facility while a decision on their future is made. The family assured they would be “released into the best environment available to them”.

Mathewson is believed to have rescued the lions from “canned hunting” – when animals are hunted in an enclosed area, or are bred for hunting.


West Mathewson was a well known conservationist in South Africa.

West Mathewson was a well known conservationist in South Africa. 

The Guardian article

The incredible story of how leopard Diabolo became Spirit, Anna Breytenbach, Animal Communicator  This is the lady who could give us a deeper understanding of why those lions attacked and killed West Mathewson.  

Meeting Spirit, an interesting conversation

Corneliu Boghian This is sad news . Thanks for sharing.
November 14, 2020 at 10:36pm
Simon Keighley This is sad news, Charamaine, however, you can't domesticate lions and wild animals which conservationists do understand - killing for food is their natural instinct. Thanks for sharing.
September 4, 2020 at 10:05am
Charles Phillips People with a history of working with wild animals understand that animals can revert to their instincts at any time. The instincts of wild as opposed to domesticated animals are determined by nature, not wishful thinking.
September 4, 2020 at 6:10am
Edited 11/14 at 11:55pm