|Photo by Diana Robinson via flickr|
Aislinn Laing Johannesburg, The Daily Telegraph, June 03, 2015
Katherine Chappell, 29, from New York, flew to South Africa just a week earlier to raise funds for anti-poaching organisations.
An American tourist dragged from a car and killed by a lion in a South African safari park has been identified as Katherine Chappell, a 29-year-old film special effects editor who arrived in the country just a week ago to raise money for anti-poaching initiatives.
Miss Chappell, who worked on an Emmy Award-winning episode of the fantasy series Game of Thrones and had been based in Vancouver, Canada, since 2013, was described by her family as "brilliant, kind, adventurous and high-spirited".
"Her energy and passion could not be contained by mere continents or oceans. She was very much loved and shared her love for life with those she met," her sister Jennifer wrote in a tribute posted on Facebook.
"We cannot thank everyone enough for the kind words and support. It means the world to us during this difficult time."
Miss Chappell was killed by a nine-year-old lioness on Monday afternoon as she visited the popular Lion Park on the outskirts of Johannesburg. Park staff said the lioness had been lying in a pride when Miss Chappell and her tour guide drove past in a white 4x4 but got up and walked towards the car, stopping around a metre away.
As Miss Chappell took pictures, the lion unexpectedly pounded through the open window and bit her. Yesterday, the tour guide, identified by Mailonline as Pierre Potgieter, 66, denied witness claims that he and his client had driven around the enclosure with their windows fully open.
"That’s not right… not right at all," he reportedly told the Mailonline. "If that’s what they're saying, that’s not the case. Not at all."
He said the attack which killed Miss Chappell had been "dreadful". "I’m still in a shock and daze about it," he added.
His wife Corlien Potgieter said in a statement released through their company Kalabash Tours that her husband had suffered a heart attack as well as serious injuries to his arms after he tried to fight the lion off.
"The tourist had a camera and, of her own accord, rolled down the passenger window in order to take photographs. A lion then attacked the tourist through the open window," she said.
"Mr Potgieter tried to fend the lioness off and in the process sustained injuries to his arm. When the lion retreated, Mr Potgieter saw that the tourist had sustained extremely serious injuries.
"She was bleeding profusely from her neck. Under the circumstances Mr Potgieter tried his best to stop the bleeding and save her life.
"He applied constant pressure to stop the bleeding, while calling for help."
The statement also accused staff at the Lion Park of failing to help his attempts to help Miss Chappell.
Police have taken Miss Chappell's camera and those of two other families in the lion enclosure when the attack happened to determine why the lion pounced and who, if anyone, might have been at fault.
A spokesman for the park confirmed the lion would not be euthanised despite the attack, saying: “that’s not an option”.
A big cat expert said the lion would have felt threatened by the close proximity of the tourists, who were said to have been driving through the 20-acre enclosure with their windows rolled down, despite several warnings not to.
Professor Graham Kerley, of the Centre for African Conservation Ecology in Port Elizabeth, said the lion might have attacked simply because she was irritated.
“A metre is well within personal space for lions. What triggered the attack, I don’t know but that’s definitely not a comfortable situation for a lion,” he said.
The Lion Park, one of South Africa’s most popular tourist attractions just 40 minutes outside Johannesburg, remained open this week but the enclosure where the woman was killed was cordoned off.
This article was written by Aislinn Laing Johannesburg from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.