How To Survive an Attack From an African Lion

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Surviving Wild Animal Attack

Surviving Wild Animal Attack

The chances that you would get attacked by an African lion in the wild are very low but the possibility that this can happen is very real. Many people believe that one cannot survive an attack by a lion – especially the African lion which is much bigger than its cousin the cougar from North America. But there have been documented cases of people who survived lion attacks and lived to tell their story. The best way to avoid any animal attack is to take proper precautions before ever entering the wilderness.

Lions rarely hunt humans for food, and will try to avoid confrontation most of the time. However there have been cases in the past when lions hunted humans like the man-eaters of Tsavo mainly (read more on this here) because of food scarcity or they were wounded and humans provided an easy target for food.

Never approach a lion in the wild, particularly if it has cubs. Do not also try to attend to animals you think may be injured in the wild – contact the Kenya Wildlife Service – they have well trained personnel to handle those kinds of situations. Lions are known to be fiercely protective of their young and will attack if they feel their cubs are in danger.

To help prevent lion attacks, several precautions can be taken. To start with, do not travel alone, as lions are less likely to attack a group. Never at any time bring a dog or children with you into lion ranges, as they may be viewed as prey. Pay attention to recent lion activity in the area, and contact local rangers to get updated information on sightings. In years when lions’ food supply is scarce, they are much more likely to venture into populated areas or hunt anything they can find.

If you see a lion, do not try to run away or turn your back on the animal. Try to make and hold eye-contact with the lion. With many cat species, prolonged eye-contact is a sign of dominance. Try to appear larger, in any way possible. If you have a child with you, try to put them on your shoulders, to make you appear even bigger (remember the little boy and the hyena scene in the popular movie, “Gods Must be crazy”?).Wave your arms and make noise, as this may frighten away the animal.

If you are charged, try to remain standing, as the lion will try to get to your face and throat. Punch and kick the lion, aiming for the head and eyes. These tactics may seem futile against a powerful animal, but many documented reports exist of people being attacked by a lion and surviving by fighting back.

All said, it is highly recommended that you hike with a trained and experienced guide in lion ranges. Walking in a group with an experienced guide will help prevent an attack from a lion. If you are taking a car tour or safari and spot a lion, do not, under any circumstances, get out of your car.

Do not approach a den of lions or even a single one too closely, especially in the case of mating lions or lionesses with cubs. Different circumstances trigger different behaviour. During courtship, male lions are often extremely aggressive and should not be approached, even in a vehicle. A lioness with cubs is naturally protective and should be given lots of space. Being predominantly nocturnal, lions lose their inherent fear of humans at night and become much more dangerous and prone to attack. Be more cautious at night. Avoid camping in areas of high lion density – maintain a watch throughout the night if worried.

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