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The South African conservationist, West Mathewson, was mauled by his own lions at his Lion Tree Top Lodge near Hoedspruit. His wife had to witness the event as it unfolded.

Mathewson saved the cubs from being raised as canned lions, and cared for them since they were babies.

The Daily Mail reports that the incident took place when the 68-year-old unlocked the gate to take the lions, Tanner and Demi, on their daily walk at around 8:30AM on Wednesday.

His wife, 65-year-old Gill, tried her best to distract the lions, but by the time she managed to do it the injuries to her husband were already fatal. He was declared dead when medical assistance arrived on the scene.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo told News24 that an inquest docket was opened following the attack.

"It is believed the two lionesses attacked the deceased during one of their usual walks. The incident allegedly took place while his wife was helplessly watching."

The two white lions were tranquilised and transported to an endangered species centre in the area where they will be taken care of until further decisions are made.

Watch the HillPark1 video below for more info on West Mathewson’s death.

Image credits: Lowveld Media and Africa Geographic

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