Anti-poaching ranger is mauled to death by a lion in South Africa

Anti-poaching ranger is mauled to death by a lion while on patrol protecting rhinos in South African national park

  • Kobus Marais was attacked on Saturday at a national park near Johannesburg
  • The 46-year-old ranger was on rhino patrol with his dog and two colleagues
  • He was ambushed by a starving lion which viciously mauled and bit him to death
  • The experienced anti-poaching warden was described as a ‘wildlife warrior’ 

A dedicated anti-poaching ranger was viciously mauled to death after being ambushed by a starving lion in a South African safari park.

Kobus Marais, 46, was on patrol protecting rhinos on Saturday morning when he fell victim to the desperate predator which had been lying in wait for him.

Described as a ‘wildlife warrior’ by his distraught colleagues, the experienced game ranger was found dead with horrific wounds by his fellow patrollers who heard his screams for help.


Kobus Marais (pictured left with his dog Heily who was with him during the incident), 46, was killed during patrol protecting rhinos on Saturday morning. The right picture shows members of the anti-rhino poaching patrol at the Pilanesberg National Park in South Africa

The ranger was ambushed by the rogue lion while patrolling the Pilanesberg National Park near Johannesburg with his dog Heily and two of his fellow patrollers (file photo)

The ranger was ambushed by the rogue lion while patrolling the Pilanesberg National Park near Johannesburg with his dog Heily and two of his fellow patrollers. 

Kobus’s colleagues, who had driven ahead to lay a training scent for the patrol dog, were unaware that the man was being stalked by the wild beast.

When they heard his screams for help, they raced back through the bush and found the man-eater on top of the ranger. They opened fire and killed it with several shots.

They rushed to help the stricken ranger – who was armed but is believed not to have seen the lion as his weapon was not fired – who had been horrifically injured.

Kobus, who had been mauled and repeatedly bitten by the lion, was bleeding heavily before succumbing to his wounds.

His Belgian Malinois patrol dog was found nearby uninjured but clearly fearful.


Described as a ‘wildlife warrior’ by his distraught colleagues, the experienced game ranger was found dead with horrific wounds by his fellow patrollers who heard his screams for help. Pictures above show Kobus with his dog Heily, who was on patrol with him on Saturday

A spokesman for the Pilanesberg National Park said: ‘Kobus was a true wildlife warrior and was loved by all his fellow patrollers and all our staff.

‘He was out with his K9 on patrol with two rhino protection officers who were laying a track for his dog when the attack happened in the east of the park by a fence.

‘Unbeknown to Marais a very thin and poor condition lion was probably lying in wait.

‘He was armed but for whatever reason the gun was not fired in the attack.

‘Marais tragically succumbed to his wounds and the emaciated lion was shot dead during the incident and then taken to the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute for a post mortem.

‘The rhinos here at Pilanesberg have lost a true friend and conservation has lost a true wildlife warrior. To Lottie Marais, his wife, we express our most heartfelt condolences.

‘Kobus, you have left a void in so many lives and you will be greatly missed. Thank you for your contribution. We are so, so sorry.You paid the highest price’ said the spokesman.

A spokesman for the Rhino 911 conservation group said: ‘Kobus was a gentle and kind soul and a true conservation warrior and the rhinos have lost a brave and dedicated guardian’.

The ranger was ambushed by the rogue lion while patrolling the Pilanesberg National Park (pictured) near Johannesburg, South Africa, with his dog Heily and two of his fellow patrollers

Ecotourism graduate student Lauren L’Ange, 27, who photographed Kobus with his latest K9 dog Heily said: ‘He was dedicated to what he did and was an excellent game ranger.

‘He spent so much time out protecting rhinos and also taking Heily out into schools and to meet the public to teach them about the conservation of rhinos and the work he did.

‘His wife Charlotte is the representative here of Copenhagen Zoo and they sponsored and trained Heily for Kobus when his last K9 Dexter unexpectedly passed away in 2016.

‘Kobus was such a dedicated ranger and lived for his rhinos and his work.It is a totally tragic way for him to lose his life.Lottie will be so devastated to lose him’ she said.

A South African wildlife expert said: ‘When males become too old to be the dominant member of the pride they are forced out of the pride by the younger stronger males.

‘Unable to hunt for themselves properly they become emaciated and begin to starve and then they take risks to try and feed themselves with ordinarily they would never take.

‘That is what probably happened here in that an elderly lion no longer able to catch its own prey realised that its very survival depended on making a kill on a human being.

‘It is extremely unusual but you have to remember lions do not play by any rules,’ he added. 

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