Upington – A game ranger’s life was heroically saved on Tuesday when an aggressive lion attacked him on the back of a bakkie in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park.

Albert Bojone was literally pulled from the lion’s jaws when Graeme Ellis, a biotechnician and researcher in the park, jumped out of the bakkie’s cabin and dragged him inside.

Bojone’s boot, which was grabbed by the lion, remained between the lion’s teeth when Ellis pulled him free. The lion was shot dead with the boot in his jaws.

The lion had first bitten his arm and when he let go, Bojone jumped onto the bakkie cabin’s roof with the lion jumping up after him.

Other lions shot

The lion attack came after four lions were shot dead over the weekend for killing cattle.

Henriëtte Engelbrecht, marketing and communication manager of the South African National Parks (SANParks) arid parks in the Northern Cape, said Bojone, Ellis and Mico Ferreira, senior game ranger, were looking for the three remaining lions in the pride on the Botswana side of the park close to the border with South Africa.
Bojone sat on the back of the bakkie and the other two were in the cabin. They followed the two lions and then drove behind the one on the right.

The next moment the other lion rushed at the bakkie and jumped on the back.

“The bakkie fortunately had railings, which held the lion back. He got hold of Bojone’s arm. When he let go for a moment, Bojone jumped on the cabin roof.”

The lion jumped onto the back and grabbed Bojone’s foot. Ellis then got out of the cabin and pulled Bojone in.

Both his boots were left behind, one between the lion’s teeth. This boot had four holes where the lion had bitten it.

Bojone was rushed to the Mediclinic in Upington where he was still in the ICU on Tuesday.

Engelbrecht said the lions, known among rangers as “bush lions” usually frequented areas where there were no people.

No previous lion attacks

The lion that attacked Bojone was possibly furious about his mate that had been shot dead.

When the lions moved out of their area, game rangers were sent to catch them. They were then brought back to Kgalagadi, where they were kept for 14 days in a boma. They were then released about 200km from where they were found.

She said Nardus du Plessis, the park’s former senior game ranger, on Tuesday confirmed to her that no lion had attacked a human being in the 15 years that he had been in the park.

Bojone had been working in the park for 22 years.

He also said something like this had never happened while he was working at the park.

Engelbrecht said lions had rushed at vehicles before. A blanket was then usually thrown over them when they got close to the vehicle. They then fought the blanket and usually gave up.

On Tuesday, however, the lion simply pushed through the blanket to get to Bojone.

“He must have been furious.”

CREDIT: André Botha, Volksblad on http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Game-ranger-saved-from-lions-jaw-20111102

PHOTO CREDIT: Angela Isaaks, Volksblad