In the jaws of a lion: How Kenyan couple survived vicious attack

Friday February 09 2024
Susan Chebet

Susan Chebet at Isiolo Referral Hospital in Isiolo County, Kenya where she and her husband, Michael Apaiyu, were admitted after being attacked by a lion on February 8, 2024. PHOTO | NMG


A Kenyan couple in Isiolo County on Thursday recounted how they almost lost their lives at the jaws of a lion that attacked them.

Although the savage attack left them nursing serious injuries, Michael Apaiyu and his wife Susan Chebet said they were lucky to be alive.

When he saw the lion pursuing his wife who was fetching firewood at Maili Nane area, Apaiyu had the option of running for his dear life and confronting the big cat.

Apaiyu chose to face off with the lion, well aware of the grave danger he was exposing himself to.

Read: Hyena attacks on the rise in Kenya

“I saw the lion charging at my wife who, out of fear, started running away. I could not stand watching her being mauled by the lion, so I decided to confront it,” Apaiyu told the Nation at Isiolo Referral Hospital.


A brave Apaiyu wrestled the lion to the ground even as it viciously clawed him.

Michael Apaiyu

Michael Apaiyu speaks to the media at Isiolo Referral Hospital in Isiolo County, Kenya where he and his wife, Susan Chebet, were admitted after being attacked by a lion on February 8, 2023. PHOTO | NMG

“The lion overpowered me, wrapped itself around my body, and sunk its front claws into my back,” he recounted.

All the while, his wife watched from a distance, praying that her husband would miraculously survive the attack.

The life-and-death struggle lasted about 20 minutes and just when a weak Apaiyu was almost giving up, he summoned the energy to ask his wife to throw him a panga she had gone to cut firewood with.

“She rushed and hit the animal in the eye twice," Apaiyu recounted.

Still, the lion would not let go of Mr Apaiyu’s ankle with which it had pinned him to the ground.

Read: Human activity fueling conflict with wildlife

When his wife struck the lion again it, turned around and clawed her on the chest. The lion eventually let go of Apaiyu as the terrified couple ran for their lives.

Chebet sustained injuries on her chest and legs. The mother of two broke down while narrating their ordeal

“I am happy and sad at the same time. I thank God we survived but I am worried about our children. Who will take care of them with both of us in hospital with serious injuries?” she posed.

It remains unclear if the lion, which was fitted with a tracker and is suspected to have sneaked out of the nearby Lewa Conservancy, died or escaped with injuries.

“We left it lying on the ground,” the couple said.

Hellen Nakutun, a relative of the couple appealed for compensation to the family, saying the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) had failed in securing national parks, leading to repeated cases of human-wildlife conflict.

“KWS should secure the parks to ensure we do not lose anymore lives. Sadly, they allowed the lion to stray into villages,” she said while calling on well-wishers and elected leaders to help the family.