The moment Chris Packham was charged at by a lion

Daily Echo: The lion  hurtles towards  photographer  Chris Packham The lion hurtles towards photographer Chris Packham

AS weeks go, Chris Packham has had a thrilling one.

The Hampshire TV wildlife presenter was on a photographic trip to Africa when he found himself being charged by lions, chased by cheetahs and nursing a baby warthog through the night.

And as if it could not get more exciting than that, the 52-year-old returned home in one piece and just in time to be awarded an honorary degree by the University of Southampton.

Only days before he was bestowed with the honour and draped in cap and gown, the BBC Springwatch presenter found himself just metres away from one of the world’s most deadly predators. It was during his two-week trip to Namibia that he found himself being charged by  four lions in the Okonjima Lodge Reserve.

But what would have left most people terrified in fact left Chris simply fascinated, as he stood still and stayed calm to defuse the hostile situation. He even took the stunning photograph right.

Chris, who lives in the city, said: “I was just concentrating on taking photos. I was, as they say, in the zone.

“I know that if you move they are going to follow you, you have no choice but to stay still.”

He added: “You can tell when a lion is going to charge at you. They utter a low-pitched groan and their pupils are very highly contracted, rather like a weird zombie.

“There’s a saying that those that think first and get scared later survive. I know it is ridiculous but I just do not get scared. I count myself lucky to be charged by them – for me it is an extraordinary experience.”

Yesterday Chris was a guest among more than 900 students at a winter graduation ceremony at the Turner Sims Concert Hall, where he said he was “immensely flattered” to be made Honorary Doctor of Science.

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He added: “It’s nice to come back and be amongst friends. I missed my first graduation to photograph orchids in the Hebrides and it’s taken 30 years to get the robes on.

“I’m immensely grateful for the education that I’ve received at this fine university.”

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