The man appears stranded in chest-deep water. A lioness creeps through the reeds‚ its eyes fixed on him‚ and leaps … into his arms.
This is the opening scene of a new video featuring South African “lion whisperer” Kevin Richardson and two lionesses he rescued at birth when they were rejected by their mother.
The film‚ “For the Love of Lions”‚ was shot at Richardson’s sanctuary in Welgedacht Game Reserve‚ half-an-hour north-east of Pretoria‚ and has racked up more than 200‚000 YouTube views since it was posted a week ago.
Richardson explains that he has an “unspoken language” with the fully-grown lionesses‚ Meg and Amy.
“When I call Meg and she comes swimming and I see in her face‚ ‘if I come to you are you going to catch me?’ ‘She looks at me‚ I look at her‚ and we know. That’s trust.”
He believes that if he had not rescued the animals they would have been killed by hunters. “Definitely‚ in my mind‚ they were destined for a bullet.”