The founder and director of Israel’s rescue and recovery volunteer organization ZAKA, Yehuda Meshi Zahav, was lightly injured after being attacked by a lioness while on tour in South Africa.
Guides and locals reportedly fought off the lioness with sticks. Meshi was transferred to a local hospital to receive medical attention.
“It was terrifying fear; for the first time in my life I felt fear, and the power of the lioness,” Meshi said.
He was in South Africa for joint training with South African volunteers and a ZAKA delegation from Israel. They were teaching the volunteers how to handle future disasters.
During the trip, the group took a break to go on a jeep safari through a nature reserve.
Part of the experience included a chance to walk with lionesses in the wild. The group was briefed on safety and how to behave with the lions.
Instructions included, “do not bend over, do not kneel and do not stroke their heads.”
ZAKA founder plays with cubs at the safari. (ZAKA)
Meshi enjoyed a few minutes playing with lion cubs and later, he was approached by fully grown lionesses.
He walked a short distance with his hand on a lioness’s back before she suddenly turned and attacked him.
“The lioness knocked me down and I couldn’t fall, because if I had fallen, she would have assaulted me,” Meshi explained. “Then everyone started hitting her with sticks, everyone was charging at her, including the photographer, so it was not filmed.”
He added, that he was “not hospitalized at the moment, but they have done tests to make sure there are no infections.”
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