A safari camp near Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe is mourning the loss of one of its guides after the man was fatally attacked by an adult lion in the park on Monday. According to Camp Hwange, 40-year-old Quinn Swales was leading six tourists on a bush walk near an open savannah when they encountered the male lion. When the lion charged towards the group, Swales put himself in harm’s way and protected his guests with his own body, ultimately succumbing to his wounds after the lion was driven off.
“Only praise and admiration can be given to Quinn in the professional way he unflinchingly faced the charging lion, thus ensuring that he protected the clients all of whom were unharmed in any way,” said Camp Hwange’s General Manager David Carson in a statement. “He paid the ultimate price in pursuit of a job he loved, in an area he knew so well.”
The safari group was traveling in an area near where Cecil the lion was killed in July, an event that made international headlines. While Cecil was killed outside the park, a number of lions still reside within Hwange proper. The lions remain widely popular with visiting tourists and are some of the park’s prime attractions. They can also be very dangerous, especially when approached on foot. According to witnesses, Swales and his group spotted the lion pride at a distance and he instructed the tourists on what they should expect. He then directed the group to get behind him and not move.
“At this point the adult male rose and began walking purposefully towards the group,” the camp stated.
Swales directed his group to begin shouting at the lion in an attempt to dissuade it and at first, it appeared to be working. The lion halted and watched the group warily, which allowed the guide the opportunity to use a “bear banger,” a loud noisemaker that can scare off lions and other large predators. Sure enough, the lion started to flee back toward the pride, but at the last second it made a choice with deadly consequences. Instead of rejoining the other lions, the animal veered back and charged straight into Swales.
“Quinn bore the full brunt of the charge and, unable to fire his rifle due to the speed of the attack, literally stopped the attack of the lion on his group by placing himself directly in harm’s way. Having been thrown to the ground, bitten in the shoulder and neck Quinn sadly died at the scene, the shouting of his guests driving the lion away from his body and allowing, ultimately unsuccessfully, emergency first aid to be performed,” Camp Hwange stated.
The survivors were able to call for assistance from the camp, but Swales died at the scene.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, colleagues and friends at this sad time,” said Carson. “It would be appreciated if the family be given the privacy to mourn the loss of a fine man.”
Carson further stated that guides in Zimbabwe undergo a rigorous process before they are qualified to lead their own safaris. A guide may spend years as an apprentice, take on comprehensive and exhaustive training assessments, and finally must be judged competent in a formal review process.