Yehuda Meshi-Zahav, the founder and director of Israel’s rescue and recovery volunteer organization ZAKA, was himself rescued on Wednesday from an attacking lion during a jeep safari in South Africa, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Meshi-Zahav was knocked to the ground by an adult lion while walking with it during a supervised excursion.
Guides and locals reportedly fought the lion off with sticks. Meshi-Zahav was transferred to a local hospital for medical attention. B’chasdei Shamayim, he was not seriously injured.
“It was terrifying fear; for the first time in my life I felt fear, and the power of the lioness,” Meshi-Zahav said.
He was in South Africa for joint training with South African volunteers and a ZAKA delegation from Israel. They were teaching the South Africans how to handle future disasters in the area.
The incident occurred when during a break for a jeep safari. Participants were instructed on how to behave with the lions: do not bend over, do not kneel and do not stroke their heads.
At one point, 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, “I am not hospitalized at the moment, but they have given me tests to make sure there are no infections.”