A Christchurch boy has been attacked by a cheetah on holiday in South Africa, with his father ripping the large cat off his son during the mauling.
Amid population declines for many wildlife species in Africa, conservationists are sounding alarm bells for the cheetah, the fastest animal on land, where there are an estimated 7,100 cheetahs remaining across Africa and in a small area in Iran.
Source: Associated Press
Isaac Driver, 14, and his family were at the Emdoneni Safari Park in Zululand on Wednesday.
His sister Eve said the cheetah looked "a bit agitated", while about 20 people were allowed in to the cheetah enclosure to pat two of the animals.
"We went to see the cheetahs and they were really nice, we were enjoying stroking them," she told 1 NEWS.
Then, the cheetah attacked.
"It just leapt at Isaac. All I could see was him on the ground and it was quite scary, and as soon as I looked around dad was there and he just ripped the cheetah off him," she said.
She said Isaac's injuries were "quite deep".
"You could see the fat. He's got scratches on his back too."
However Isaac insists he is "fine".
He described his thought at the time of the attack as, "ow".
"I think it's quite cool I'm going to have a scar from a cheetah," he said.
Isaac holds no grievances against the park.
"I don't think it should be shut down or anything like that, but I think if you're a smaller child, maybe they should put the age which you can go in and see the cheetahs a bit higher and the guides did a really good job."
Eve said her parents were looking forward to getting back to "safe New Zealand".