August 20th was a sad day for the family of the man who was dubbed in Africa as “The Lion Man”. After 70 years of age, Leon van Biljon was mauled to death by lions who he had since they were small cubs at the Mahala View Lion Game Lodge near Cullinan, as he was trying to fix a part of a broken fence on the lion enclosure.
Leon was known to offer numerous guests special lessons about lions, as well as offering special safari drives for their guests of the lodge.
The lodge had three lions – Rambo, Katryn, and Nakita, and they allowed for the lodge to operate as a safari lodge that allows people do have game drives and conference facilities. The lodge posted news about the death on their Facebook page, as family members posted a social media update on the lodge’s status.
Numerous neighbors and witnesses saw the attack and were unable to do anything to help the man, so ultimately lodge employees had to shoot the lions to death in order to recover van Biljon’s body.
According to his daughter and son-in-law, Leonette and Jan van Wyk, one of the things that van Biljon loved to do was sometimes sleep in the enclosure as he was raising them from cubs, and he loved teaching the relationship between God and animals for numerous school groups and children.
One director of Four Paws in South Africa pointed out that all of the lives lost that day are an unfortunate loss. Lions are meant to be wild animals, and there should be no unnecessary interaction between them. This goes to say that wild animals will always be wild animals, no matter how docile they were raised.