Video shows man dragged away by lion
THIS is the British safari park owner who was savaged by a huge male lion after entering its enclosure in front of horrified onlookers.
The Sun reports the distressing footage shows Mike Hodge being attacked by the big cat yesterday at the Makarele Predator Centre in Thabazimbi, South Africa.
The British man, who relocated from the UK with his wife Chrissy in 2003, is currently in hospital and is said to have sustained neck and jaw injuries.
Speaking with The Sun, a friend of Mr Hodge's, who does not wish to be named, said he was rushed to the Mediclinic Hospital 5km away.
His friend revealed that the park owner was investigating a smell in the lion's enclosure when the predator attacked him.
"Mike and one of his rangers were a little concerned about a smell in a compound that was upsetting one of the lions and had gone in through the gate to see what was causing it," he said.
"It had put the lion on edge but when Mike went in the lion turned and came for him and he ran but couldn't get through the gate quick enough and it had him.
"There is no information coming out of the hospital but all I know is that he is alive and his wife and daughter are with him.
"I do not know how badly hurt he is but he is a lovely guy and I wish him all the best.
"He is no fool around lions and knows how to interact with them but clearly something went wrong" she said.
South African police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe told News24 that Mr Hodge sustained injuries to his neck and jaw but was recuperating.
In the footage, the lion spots Mr Hodge after he enters its enclosure and chases him towards the metal door of the facility.
In astonishing scenes, the elderly park owner is dragged like a rag doll towards some bushes.
Onlookers scream for help while the animal paws Mr Hodge, who does not appear to be moving.
The lion then drags him further into the bushes but then gunshots ring out and the lion is scared away.
But the predator remains near the victim while more shots are fired into the air.
One girl who is watching the attack is heard crying in horror as another man shouts for someone to "get a rifle."
The animal has reportedly been killed following the attack.
Mr and Mrs Hodge are believed to have started a lion project in Thabazimbi, northern South Africa, which became the Marakele Animal Sanctuary in 2009.
And due to the park's popularity, the couple created the predator centre within the sanctuary featuring at least a dozen big cats, including white lions, cheetahs and two Bengal tigers.
Marakele remains closed following the attack while Mrs Hodge was said to be too upset to comment on the incident.
Social media users however felt that the lion should not have been put down and questioned why Mr Hodge would be inside the lion's enclosure when it was that close to him.
This article originally appeared in The Sun and is republished here with permission