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 also 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.
There have been documented cases of people surviving lion attacks and living to tell their stories. Having said that, the best way to avoid an animal attack is to take proper precautions before ever entering the wilderness.
Lions rarely hunt humans for food. They will try to avoid confrontation most of the time. However, there have been cases in the past when lions hunted humans like the legendary man-eaters of Tsavo. This is mainly because of food scarcity or wounds that prevent effective hunting in which case humans provide an easy target.
To help prevent an attack from an African lion, you can take these precautions.
Do not Travel Alone
Lions are less likely to attack a group. 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. Avoid camping in areas of high lion density.
Never Bring a Dog or Children with you into Lion Ranges
Children and dogs are viewed as prey by lions. 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.
Never Run Away or Turn Your Back on a Lion
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
If you thought that scene in the film ‘gods Must be Crazy’, where the little boy tries to appear taller in front of the hyena, was a fancy joke to get you to laugh, you have never been more wrong – that trick works and may determine whether you live or die! If you have a child with you, try to put them on your shoulders, to make you appear even bigger. Wave your arms and make noise at the same time. This may frighten away the animal. Seriously!
Try to Remain Standing
In the unfortunate event a lion charges, 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 this way.
Never Get out of your Car
If you spot a lion on safari, do not, under any circumstances, get out of your car. These animals are not as dumb as you think. There are recorded cases where lions crept unseen under a car and waited for passengers to disembark in Tanzania! 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.
Do not Approach Mating Lions or Lionesses with Cubs
Lions are known to be fiercely protective of their young and will attack if they feel their cubs are in danger. 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, on the other hand, is naturally protective and should be given lots of space.
Be More Cautious at Night
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.
Have you heard of or had a near-death experience with an African lion that you survived? Share by commenting below.