While visiting a lion reserve on a car tour, the woman rolled her window down to take some pictures, according to Brent Swails and Dana Ford of CNN. She likely did not see the lioness approach. The animal stopped three feet from the vehicle before lunging through the window. A guide, who was also in the car, tried to fight the animal off, sustaining injuries to his arm. Staff chased the lioness away, and the woman died at the scene. Signs in the park warn visitor to keep their windows rolled up, and the part has had previous incidents stemming from open windows.
While the facts of the attack are horrible, the lioness didn't do anything that's inconsistent with her biology, as Mary Bates explains for National Geographic. Lions are extremely accomplished predators and adept hunters. For them, humans count as prey. Ignoring their prowess in this department is a big mistake. Luke Dollar, a conservation scientist who directs the National Geographic Society's Big Cats Initiative, told Bates. "Almost any organism around lions might be a potential prey item, and for people to think that they are an exception is folly" Dollar said. "I would imagine that every other primate that co-exists with big cats is acutely aware of the position they hold relative to the top predators of the world."
Given the intersection of tourism and conservation at sites like the lion park, humans sometimes acquire a false sense of security. As society expands to less developed areas, humans, lions and other predators have also inevitably crossed paths more frequently.