A conservationist has been mauled to death by 400lb white lions he kept at his South African safari lodge.
West Mathewson, 68, was attacked by two mature lionesses after he unlocked their gate to take them for a morning walk.
His wife Gill, 65, attempted to save her husband by distracting the 400lb lionnesses, named Tanner and Demi, but they had already inflicted fatal injuries.
Mr Mathewson ran a popular safari known as Lion Tree Top Lodge, located near the town of Hoedspruit, around 280 miles north west of Johannesburg.
The lionesses had previously killed a man working on a neighbouring property after they broke out of their paddock in 2017, according to a report in the Telegraph.
Mathewson’s daughter-in-law Tehri Fergusson told the publication that Mr Mathewson’s death could have been the result of ‘very rough play’.
‘We will only know why he died when we have the results of the autopsy,’ she said.
‘We have to realise, West was not as young as he thought he was. We are still not sure what actually happened but there was very rough play.’
The lionesses were tranquilised following the attack on Wednesday and have been taken to a local endangered species centre.
According to Ms Fergusson, they will later be released into the wild.