April 24 2007 at 08:33AM
Game park owner Dirk Brink, 58, died of a stroke and was not killed by the lions that mauled him, Beeld reported on Tuesday.
This came to light on Monday during the post-mortem on Brink, who owned the Krugersdorp game park.
It showed that he was attacked by the pride at Ngonyama Lion Lodge only after his death from a stroke.
Brink’s body was found at 12.45pm on Friday where it had been dragged by the lions to dense trees near the feeding area, where his 4×4 vehicle was found.
‘Caused by a blood clot in the brain’
Louis van der Walt, a family friend who lives in the game park, said on Monday the post-mortem showed that Brink’s death was caused by a blood clot in the brain.
Paramedics, police and game wardens struggled for nearly an hour to get Brink’s body away from the lions. Shots were fired eventually to scatter them.
Beeld was told that although Brink’s body was badly mauled his head was intact and his brain could be examined without difficulty.
His family and friends said earlier that Brink would never have got out of the vehicle.
It now appears that he staggered out of the vehicle in his last moments, and died outside it.
Van der Walt said Brink was definitely dead by the time the lions began to chew on his body.
“There were no blood marks near the vehicle and there was definitely no sign of a struggle, said Van der Walt.
“Everything there indicates that the lions dragged him off under the trees after he had died.”
Professor H O de Waal of the University of the Free State, an expert on the feeding patterns of game, said the lions could hardly be blamed for Brink’s death.
They would have regarded him as prey if he was out of the vehicle, and they acted instinctively.
“A lion is a wild animal and will kill you if gets the opportunity,” he said.
Coert Steynberg, an expert from South Africa’s game industry, agreed and said it would be a travesty to destroy the pride.
“A lion does not distinguish between people and animals, both are food to him. How can you blame something that was merely finishing its lunch?” said Steynberg.
Beeld reported on Monday that the lions might be moved and replaced by another pride.
Steynberg pointed out that it would be difficult to move them to another camp, because lions had a rigid social structure and were not likely to tolerate others trying to get in.
“The dominant male would kill the less-dominant one and his offspring, to ensure the propagation of his own pride’s gene pool.”
De Waal said the most important message of the tragic events was never to underestimate such animals. – Sapa