A 20-year-old Zimbabwean, Berty Chigwe, fought off a vicious attacking lion with his bare hands earlier this week in a desperate bid to defend his life. The blood-curdling incident took place in Munyamama Village, Chipinge South, on Tuesday. According to reports gathered by iHarare from state-media, Chigwe put up a fierce fight against one of two lions believed to have escaped from the nearby Save Conservancy.
When the attack occurred, Chigwe was harvesting cotton in the field with the help of his two nephews, Muzi Chikowo,14, and Sam Chikowo,10. At the sight of the lions, Sam is said to have fled the field with one of the lions in hot pursuit, leaving the two behind.
Out of fear, Muzi clung onto Chigwe’s back, forcing him to meet the beast head-on. Although he made a valiant effort to fight off the lion, he was eventually overpowered, only to be saved by locals who rushed to their aid. He sustained serious injuries all over the body while Muzi was also bruised all over. Sam escaped unscathed after having sought shelter in a tree.
Yesterday, reporters from state-media visited Chigwe, who is currently admitted at St Peter’s Mission Hospital. He narrated how he escaped death by a whisker. Speaking to the publication, Chigwe said,
My two nephews Muzi, Sam and l woke up early Tuesday morning to harvest cotton in our fields. We then heard people shouting from a distance that they had spotted two lions coming from Save River heading towards our direction.
We ignored them and continued with our work. After about 20 minutes, two lions emerged from a nearby cotton field and started roaring. A lioness charged towards me.
Fear gripped my nephew, Muzi, who ran and jumped onto my back. Everything happened in a flash. I remember seeing Sam running away with another lion in hot pursuit.
Chigwe also added that it was a miracle that he is still alive.
I wrestled with the lioness that had jumped on us. When we fell down, the lioness mauled my left thigh. I was badly injured and blood oozed from the injury. I remained determined to survive and continued wrestling with it. I tried to grab its mouth but failed.
I was also mauled on my right hand and it dragged me towards the direction where Sam had ran towards. I continued crying for help as I was staring death in the face.
As that was happening, Muzi managed to escape and ran to notify other villagers. They swiftly reacted and came to my rescue, armed with hoes, iron bars and drums. When they started beating the drums, this scared the lioness. lt dropped me and ran away into the wilderness.
Muzi confirmed that he survived by jumping onto his uncle’s back.
When we saw the lions approaching us, fear gripped me and I ran to my uncle. I jumped on his back and clung onto his shoulders. As the lioness charged towards us, Uncle Berty remained rooted on the ground until the lioness jumped at him.
As we fell onto the ground, I continued clinging onto my uncle’s shoulders and that’s when l sustained these bruises. The lioness mauled his thigh and I took advantage of the commotion to escape and alert the other villagers.
Zimbabwe Wildlife and Parks Management spokesperson, Mr Tinashe Farawo and Ward 21 Councillor Lucas Muchinani confirmed the incident. Mr Farawo said the human and wildlife conflict in Chipinge is being caused by an overpopulation of wild animals in Save Conservancy.
I can confirm that two lions attacked and injured two people in Chief Musikavanhu’s area on Tuesday. One of them is still in hospital.