Five New Zealanders were shielded from a marauding lion by an experienced Zimbabwean safari guide who was killed in the strike.

The Kiwis emerged unscathed and have been hailed for their bravery in Monday's attack in the Hwange National Park, in Zimbabwe.

Quinn Swales, 40, died as he led a walking group that also included a French national through the park, the former home of celebrated lion Cecil, who was controversially shot last month by an American hunter.

The party, who were staying at Camp Hwange, came across a pride of lions and a male animal attacked them.


The camp's general manager David Carson told NZME News Service he was unable to give any details about the New Zealanders, but he was impressed with how they handled their ordeal.

"They were very brave, some of the bravest we've ever met. They are level-headed people. To go through something like that and they come out the other side so level headed - they saved the day."

It's understood they've since headed home.

Mr Carson had noticed over the past two years increasing numbers of Kiwis heading to the park.

In a statement Camp Hwange outlined Monday's fatal events.After the party came across the pride, an adult male lion rose and walked "purposefully" towards the group.

"As he had done numerous times in his career, Quinn immediately briefed his guests on what to expect and instructed them to get behind him and not move.

"They tried shouting at the lion to intimidate it and Mr Swales let off a loud "bear banger".

This seemed to work at first and the lion moved off.


"But it suddenly turned and instantaneously charged and attacked Quinn who had continued to place himself between his guests and the animal," the statement says.

"Quinn bore the full brunt of the charge and, unable to fire his rifle due to the speed of the attack, literally stopped the attack of the lion on his group by placing himself directly in harm's way.

"Having been thrown to the ground, bitten in the shoulder and neck, Quinn sadly died at the scene, the shouting of his guests driving the lion away from his body and allowing, ultimately unsuccessfully, emergency first aid to be performed."

Mr Carson said the mauling was a rare and tragic event and he paid tribute to Mr Swales.

"Only praise and admiration can be given to Quinn in the professional way he unflinchingly faced the charging lion, thus ensuring that he protected the clients, all of whom were unharmed in any way.

"He paid the ultimate price in pursuit of a job he loved, in an area he knew so well," said Mr Carson, himself an experienced safari guide.

Just two days before the fatal mauling, Christchurch man Bill Doughty and his family when on a bushwalk with Mr Swales, who he paid tribute to in a Facebook posting.

"His safety briefing and care was second only to his love and respect for the bush and its animals. A tragic accident has deprived us of a passionate and professional guide. You will be remembered Quinn," wrote Mr Doughty, who is still overseas.

"What an amazing guide and wonderful human being. My children will forever remember their first safari experience with this wonderful man."

Mr Doughty said his family's thoughts were with Mr Swales' loved ones.