Being attacked by a lion in the wild is an extremely remote but real possibility. While it may seem impossible to survive a lion attack, many people have been able to fend or fight off the animals and escape. The best way to avoid any animal attack is to take proper precautions before ever entering the wilderness.
Lions do not usually hunt humans for food, and they will try to avoid confrontation most of the time. Never approach a lion in the wild, particularly if it is a cub or has cubs with it. If you are concerned that the animal may be injured, leave the area and contact a local wildlife agency. Lions are fiercely protective of their young and will attack if they feel cubs are in danger. Experts recommend that you never approach any animal in the wild, regardless of how cute it may be.
To help prevent lion attacks, several precautions can be taken. Do not travel alone, as lions are less likely to attack a group. Experts recommend that you do not bring dogs or children into lion ranges, as they may be viewed as prey. Pay attention to recent lion activity in the area, and contact local rangers to get updated information on sightings. In years when lions’ food supply is scarce, they are much more likely to venture into populated areas or hunt anything they can find.
Most lions, particularly mountain lions, are nocturnal hunters. If these animals are found in your area, you should not hike between sunset and sunrise. Not only are you more likely to encounter a lion in these hours, you are less likely to notice one nearby.
It is important to know what type of lions live in the area you are visiting or living in. If you are in North America, you may encounter mountain lions, also called cougars. They are not "true" lions, belonging to a different genus, but are still quite dangerous. In Africa or Asia, you must be on the lookout for several subspecies of lion, which are much larger than their American relatives. While escape strategies are similar, mountain lions are more easily frightened away and usually pose less of a danger.
If you see a big cat of any type, do not try to run away or turn your back on the animal. Try to appear larger, in anyway possible. Wave your arms and make noise, as this may frighten away the animal. If you have a child with you, try to put him or her on your shoulders, to make you appear even bigger.
If a mountain lion appears to be ready to attack, throw anything you can find at it. Rocks and sticks are usually readily available, but do not turn your back on the animal. Try to aim for the animal’s head if possible. While your goal is not to hurt the lion, take whatever precautions necessary to survive.
Unfortunately, these precautions may not save you from being attacked by a lion. If you are charged, try to remain standing, as the lion will try to get to your face and throat. Punch and kick the animal, aiming for the head and eyes. These tactics may seem futile against a powerful animal, but many documented reports exist of people being attacked and surviving by fighting back.
Regarding African or Asiatic lions, it is never recommended that you hike without a guide in lion ranges. Though it is rare, some singular specimens of these animals have been found to actively hunt humans with staggering success. Walking in a group with an experienced guide may help prevent being attacked. If you are taking a car tour or safari and spot a lion, do not, under any circumstances, get out of your car.
Lions are apex predators and extremely strong, but humans must remember that these cats need our protection and maintenance to survive shrinking habitats and plummeting food sources. Even when lions wander into populated areas and attack, many experts point out that it is the humans who have trespassed into the lion’s former natural range. Being attacked by a lion is a terrifying concept, but bear in mind that the animal is trying to survive, and despite being a predator, needs protection and respect to exist on the modern Earth.