Walking safari guide is killed by lion while protecting tourists

HARARE, Zimbabwe — A guide mauled to death by a lion, put himself between tourists and the charging animal, during an attack in the same park where Cecil the lion once roamed, a Zimbabwean tour group said.

Quinn Swales was killed as he led a walking tour through Hwange National Park.

“Quinn bore the full brunt of the charge and, unable to fire his rifle due to the speed of the attack, literally stopped the attack of the lion on his group by placing himself directly in harm’s way,” Camp Hwange said on their Facebook page. The tour group revealed more details of the attack in a statement late Tuesday.

“Having been thrown to the ground, bitten in the shoulder and neck Quinn sadly died at the scene, the shouting of his guests driving the lion away from his body and allowing, ultimately unsuccessfully, emergency first aid to be performed,” the statement said.

The 40-year-old guide was “fully qualified and very experienced,” Camp Hwange said. On a guided walking tour on Monday, he followed lion tracks that led to a pride. An adult male rose and began walking toward the group. Swales instructed the tourists to get behind him and stand still, according to the firm.

At first the lion did not charge. As it came closer, Swales and the tourists shouted to intimidate it. The lion seemed to return to its pride, but suddenly charged toward the group, attacking Swales, the tour group said.

Hwange park was once home to Cecil, a lion controversially killed by an American trophy hunter in July, sparking international outrage.

Like Cecil, the attacking lion named Nxaha, wears a satellite collar installed by wildlife researchers.

Zimbabwe’s National Parks and Wildlife Management Authority will decide the lion’s future after an investigation.

The attack has not affected the popularity of walking tours through Zimbabwe’s wildlife parks, a safari operator said.

“It’s a safe experience and a great experience too. It’s not as if these attacks happen daily,” said Trevor Lane, a member of the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe. “It was an accident and we are still recording huge interest from tourists. It’s popular and will remain so.”

But tourists must be warned of the potential risks of guided walks, said police spokeswoman Charity Charamba.

“Tracking these animals on foot on their habitat may seem fun but it is dangerous, very dangerous,” she said, adding that villagers living near parks were also attacked by wild animals.

“People should never forget that these are wild animals,” she said.


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