In the last survival guide we published, we talked about how to survive a horse attack, now we’re going to talk about how to survive a lion attack. Encountering one of these beasts on a hunting or camping expedition could change your life. Let’s make sure it’s a good change leaving you with an awesome story to tell.
You are fulfilling the dream of your life doing a wonderful Safari in Africa with your family, an incredible experience that is definitely worth living at least once in your life. However, traveling to the cradle of humanity and the only place where we can still find hundreds of species of wild animals living in total freedom is not without risk, Africa is beautiful but that does not make it any less dangerous for inexperienced tourists.
The truth is that it is quite dangerous to travel to this country without a guide or a specialized expedition group to tell us which are the safest places where we can walk and take pictures without the danger of coming face to face with a lion that has just woken up from a nap. Because yes, although it may sound like a joke, it is possible to come across a lion while walking calmly and happily through the savannah, in fact there are already several known cases of tourists who were disoriented and ended up being attacked by a lion that was in the area looking for something to put in its mouth.
And that is precisely what we want to talk to you about today, the importance for tourists to know what to do and what not to do if they are unlucky enough to come across a lion that will surely be eager to bite them. Because I’m sorry to tell you that of all the animals you might encounter while on safari in Africa, the lion is the one you have the least chance of living with. And there is a reason why the lion is considered the king of the savannah: it is fast, has enormous strength and reflexes and, unfortunately for us, it is carnivorous. This means that a lost tourist without too much cunning fits perfectly into its diet, even if only as a dessert.
Therefore, if you are planning a trip to Africa and you want to be prepared for any unforeseen event, such as coming across a hungry wild lion, we will give you a series of key tips with which you can face this complicated situation and have more chances of getting out unscathed (or practically unscathed) and then be able to tell in your own words how you faced a lion and managed not to get eaten. And where human ingenuity does not reach, there is the Internet, always ready to give us extra information to be prepared to face any unforeseen event.
Can a human really survive a lion attack?
The first question you will have to answer before learning the basic survival techniques for a lion attack is this: can you really survive such an event? And you will think that it is absurd to have to solve this question, because whatever your answer is in the end what will determine your destiny is the luck you have at the moment you meet the lion or your level of cunning. And yes, both aspects play a crucial role in your survival but there is something else even more important to take into account: the power of your mind, because believing you are capable of doing something is the first step to get to do it.
So, when asked if there is any chance for a human to actually survive a lion attack, we have good news for you: yes, it is possible to survive a lion attack without any help and there are real statistics to prove it. In fact, the exact number of lion encounters that have had a happy ending is currently around 40%, all of these being cases where tourists or locals accidentally came across a lion and chose not to move or desperately try to defend themselves.
Therefore, based on this hopeful fact we are going to explain some of the best tricks with which you can also achieve it and get out safe and sound of one of the most terrifying situations that could happen to you in your life. Take note, breathe calmly and memorize everything we are going to tell you because it could save your life.
How To Survive a Lion Attack
Step 1. Don’t run and be brave in front of the lion
This first tip may seem easier said than done, because who wants to stand still while a lion stares at them and approaches them? No one, of course. But believe me when we tell you that the best thing to do the first moment you realize you have a lion in front of you is to stand still. Don’t panic and above all, don’t turn your back.
A lion is a feline and as such the first thing it will do before attacking is to analyze its prey and determine whether or not it is really worth attacking. Therefore, the more still you stay and the more fixed you keep your eyes on it, the better you will do. We even recommend that you make a sound, a sort of muffled cry that can serve as a warning and that the lion can interpret as a threat. If the lion sees that you can defend yourself and that you are not easy to intimidate, he will think much more about it and the chances of him ruling out attacking you will multiply.
On the other hand, running away is not a smart option either since the lion is an animal capable of running 50 miles per hour. Do you think you could outrun it? Not even the fastest man on the planet, which is able to run about 22 km per hour, could do it, so you better not even try because you will only end up being hunted in less time and with much less chance of response. Listen to us and don’t run, because you will only end up dying tired.
Stand firm, even if inside you are dying of fear, because that cold blood can save your life.
Step 2. Analyze the lion’s movements
As we explained in the previous point, a lion when it comes to hunting behaves in the same way as a domestic cat, so there will be certain movements that you can interpret to better know what the lion is thinking of doing and what its attitude is to your unexpected encounter.
For example, when the lion has identified a prey and is totally determined to go after it, it will not move an inch from where it is and neither will its tail. If you notice that its tail is totally stiff and raised, you may fear for your life because the lion sees you as easy prey and is ready to attack at a moment’s notice.
If, on the other hand, you observe that the lion moves from side to side and its tail is relaxed but making smooth movements, it means that it is annoyed but it is not sure what to do with you. At this signal you should move away slowly and do not make him more angry, use his indecision to move to the side gently is a good strategy for the lion to get bored of you and let you go.
Finally, if the lion’s tail is all the way down and it barely moves, that lion will almost certainly not attack you. Of course, the lion will watch you and analyze everything you do, so you will have to remain very still while it does it so that its mood does not change, but if it remains relaxed and does not see you as prey or as a real threat, the lion will leave. And you can breathe easy while you go back to your loved ones to tell them what happened to you.
Step 3. Permanent visual contact
This tip is already implicit in the two previous ones but it is so important that we are going to give it its own space. Felines use their eyes to interpret their prey, so we will have to act like them to let them know that we are not going to give up and that we are not an easy prey for them.
The look of a lion is terrifying, we know that and we know that it is difficult to keep your gaze fixed and serene while you hear him growling, but it is a very good strategy to communicate with him and let him see that attacking you is not a good idea. Permanent eye contact, don’t forget.
Step 4. Wave your arms and back away slowly
This is the last step to carry out and you can only do it if all the others have worked and the lion has not made any attempt to attack you: start taking small steps backwards (without turning around, always facing the lion and keeping your eyes on him) and keep waving your arms in wide open movements. In this way, you will look bigger and the lion will move back more and will not try to attack you because it feels you more as a threat than as a prey to be eaten.
Step 5. Stand still in any circumstance
We know that in the last steps we told you that you could move gently backwards to start moving away from the lion, but this is only valid if the lion has not made any attacking movement towards you. If the lion starts making charges, usually always zig zagging, you should stand completely still and wait.
Most charges are simulated and if you stand still and show no weakness the lion will not continue to run at you. Therefore, even if you see the lion start to move dangerously towards you, do not move an inch. It is vital.
Step 6. Protect your neck and use your arms as a shield
Finally, if the lion has finally decided to attack (which would be very bad news for you but does not have to mean the end for you) we recommend that when it lunges at you you stay stiff, protecting your neck as much as you can and using your arms as a shield so that you can’t reach your head easily. An arm or leg injury is preferable, your chances of survival are higher with a bite to the end than to the neck or head, so don’t hesitate to defend yourself as much as you can.
Finally, if you feel strong enough, try to punch the lion in the face, right between the eyes. This is a very sensitive area for felines and this will stun it enough for you to escape in the opposite direction. If the lion senses that you have become a threat and doesn’t want to waste any more time with you, it will leave. It’s better to try than do nothing.
In conclusion, learning how to survive a lion attack in the wild will very likely not prevent you from getting life-altering damage or death. But knowing what to do could save your life. Prevention and having the right survival gear such as first aid supplies is crucial.
For survival guides on other wild animals, refer to the guide on how to survive any wild animal attack.