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Wednesday, 15 December, 1999, 14:25 GMT
British tourist 'eaten by lions'

Matusadona National Park Matusadona National Park: Densely populated with lions

A British teenager was mauled to death and partially eaten by a pride of lions while on an African holiday, an inquest has heard.

David Pleydell-Bouverie, 19, from Peters Green, near Luton, Bedfordshire, died when lions attacked his tent on the shores of Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe, on 1 August.

He was woken when a lion poked his head through his tent door. He screamed and ran out of his tent but was brought down by up to 12 lions and mauled to death.

Safari guides tried in vain to scare the lions away by lighting flares and driving a Land Rover at them but they were unable to save Mr Pleydell-Bouverie, whose father, Richard, is the High Sheriff of Hertfordshire.

At an inquest in Hitchin, Herts, District Coroner Dr John Vick recorded a verdict of accidental death on Mr Pleydell-Bouverie, who was on a photographic safari holiday when he died.

David Pleydell-Bouverie David Pleydell-Bouverie: Loved wildlife
Fellow tourist David Boyle told the inquest: "I woke up to go to the toilet. I heard a long yell, but I didn't know if it was human or animal.

"The yell was long and loud and was suddenly cut off, followed by the prolonged sound of growling of animals, which I assumed was lions."

Safari guide Bradley Fouche said: "In the moonlight I saw movement and realised that for some reason David was running away from his tent.

"I took my handgun and my torch to try to see what was going on. David disappeared into the bush. I was unable to distinguish individual shapes.

"I lit flares which detonated to make a loud noise. In the light of the flare I could see David was surrounded and covered by approximately 12 lions."

Mr Fouche said the lions were finally chased off by the Land Rover but by that time there "nothing further" that could be done to save Mr Pleydell-Bouverie.

Two of the killer lions were shot dead after the attack in the Matusadona National Park.

Lions No recent history of man-eating lions
Home Office pathologist Dr Nat Cary, who examined Mr Pleydell-Bouverie's body on its return to the UK, told the hearing he suffered multiple injuries consistent with a lion attack.

Mr Pleydell-Bouverie, who was educated at the prestigious Harrow School in north London, had stood to inherit his family's 2,000-acre estate.

Ivan Carter, whose eponymous company organised the safari, said it was the first such accident he had experienced.

He said he was "shocked" by the death of Mr Pleydell-Bouverie, who had been in Zimbabwe since March.

Mr Carter said tourists were urged to keep their tents zipped shut at night and to stay in the tent and blow a whistle if they were in danger, rather than running for help.

Mr Fouche said Mr Pleydell-Bouverie appeared to have slept with his tent open on the night of the attack.

After the verdict his family issued a statement: "We would like it to be known that they believe David's death was a tragic and freak accident and do not feel that the guide or the organisation are to blame in any way."

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02 Aug 99 |  UK
Father's agony over lion death

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