S African ranger mauled to death by lion

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) – A South African conservationist has been killed by lions he hand-reared, the family said on Thursday.

West Mathewson, 69, was walking two white lionesses on Wednesday when one of the animals attacked and killed him without warning.

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”, he 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,” said a statement by family attorney Marina Botha e-mailed to AFP.

The lions have to be temporarily moved to a facility while a decision on their final destination is made.

The family assured they would be “released into the best environment available to them”.

Mathewson and his wife had four sons and six grand-children.