The bond between a lioness and a wildlife conservationist was caught on video at a wildlife project in Botswana recently, when the giant cat pounced on a man and hugged him.
Conservationist Valentine Gruener is featured in the video approaching the cage of Sirga, a lion, and unlocking the door, according to the Daily Mail.
As Sirga paces back and forth in the cage, Gruener appears to remain calm. The scene takes place at the Modisa Wildlife Project by Maun and was captured by John Hawkins, who has been travelling across the world since 2008 and ventured through Africa last year.
Once Sirga’s cage is opened, she jumps onto Gruener in the video and rubs her face against his as a sign of affection.
“Val is a wildlife conservationist that raised Sirga the lioness almost from birth,” Hawkins said. “This guy is exceptionally inspirational. He takes her on game walks and she can even hunt on her own.”
Gruener is one of the original founders of the Modisa Wildlife Project, which aims to protect habitats for big cats and works with the Grassland Safari Lodge. The organization also researches the area’s eco-system to monitor the bird and small animal populations.
“Grassland started their conservation work by capturing lions and other big cats in conflict with farmers to spare them from certain death,” Gruener said.
Source: Daily Mail