All Saad Sarfraz Sheikh could do was watch. Helplessly.
On Sunday evening, a group of Pakistani men drove a luxury SUV into Lion Safari Park, an open air lion conservation area in Lahore, Pakistan’s second biggest city, to taunt the animals.
An edited video now circulating online shows the SUV veering off the designated vehicle path, then driving directly into the lion pride’s living area. For several terrifying minutes, the SUV attempts to drive right up to the lions, reversing and appearing to hit a lion cub at least once. A photo of the attack shows another lion with what appears to be a large contusion on its right side.
“When I realized they were trying to run them over, I was shocked,” Sheikh told ABC News. “I felt helpless. I felt like I couldn’t do anything.”
Sheikh recorded the episode on his video camera, and then posted it online. At one point, the men stop the vehicle, and get out to take pictures. Another portion shows a park official approaching the men, appearing to ask them to leave, but they refuse.
“That’s the worst part,” Sheikh explains, saying they initially left, but returned moments later.
“They actually hit one of these cubs. It was terrible. They’re people who knew they could get away with it.”
It’s unclear who the men in the SUV were. The luxury vehicle typically costs upwards of $100,000, in a country where the average income is roughly $1,300 per year. The SUV had license plates from Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. The city is home to the country’s rich and powerful, many of whom have deep connections to people of influence. As a result, many tend to see themselves as above the law.
“I know this is a country where the value of life is so low,” Sheikh explains. “But it doesn’t mean you go around running at animals and trying to kill them.”