Foolish safari tourist pets lion's head through car window

The lion.
The lion. Photo credit: YouTube / Wildelife Sightings

A tourist has been criticised for petting the head of a lion through the window of a safari jeep in South Africa. 

Footage of the man's encounter with the lion has gone viral. He can be seen stroking the animal's head through the window of a jeep. 

But the tourist got the shock of his life when the lion turned around to face him and let out a mighty roar. Clearly rattled by the experience, the tourist then closed the window immediately, the footage shows

South African safari ranger Naas Smit told the Daily Mail the tourist's actions were foolish. The lion would "have the power to pull that tourist straight out of that window and kill them instantly in front of their friends."

Mr Smit said attempting to pet the lion was "an incredibly stupid thing to do."

The incident highlights the unpredictability of wild animals. 

Last month, the owner of an animal sanctuary in Cape Town, South Africa was mauled by a lion he helped raise. 

Shamba the lion was the main attraction at the Marakele Animal Sanctuary, owned by Mike Hodge who had hand-reared and bottle-fed the lion as a cub.

Shamba was lured away from the gate of his enclosure in a routine operation which allowed Mr Hodge to exit the enclosure on foot. But the distraction did not work, and Shamba chased after his owner as Mr Hodge tried frantically to get back inside a vehicle. 

The lion pounced on Mr Hodge and dragged him into the bushes. Tourists within the vehicle screamed in shock as they watched their guide being mauled by the lion.

The lion was put down.