A BRITISH safari park owner has been savaged by a lion in front of crowds of horrified onlookers.
Mike Hodge was attacked by the big cat at the Makarele Predator Centre in Thabazimbi, South Africa, seconds after going into its enclosure.
Mr Hodge, who emigrated from the UK with his wife Chrissy in 2003, is now in hospital receiving treatment for neck and jaw injuries.
Shocking footage of the incident shows the lion chasing Mr Hodge after he enters the enclosure and then dragging him towards some bushes.
Onlookers can be heard screaming for help while the animal mauls 67-year-old Mr Hodge who does not appear to be moving.
The lion drags him further into the bushes but then gunshots ring out and the lion moves away.
A friend of the family said he was rushed the Mediclinic Hospital three miles away.
He said: “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.
“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.”
South African police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe told News24 the Brit suffered injuries to his neck and jaw but was recovering.
Mr and Mrs Hodge started a lion project in Thabazimbi, northern South Africa, which became the Marakele Animal Sanctuary in 2009.
As the wildlife park grew in popularity, the couple created the predator centre featuring at least a dozen big cats, including white lions, cheetahs and two Bengal tigers.
The park remains closed and the lion is believed to have been put down. – Express
Feel free to comment on story below