Two lions still at large in park

2008-11-13 00:00

The stormy weather on Wednesday night also damaged the fence of a lion enclosure at the Lion Park in Camperdown, resulting in 12 lions escaping into the night.

Ten lions have been recaptured and are being kept in cages, while two others are still roving about the reserve.

Brian Boswell, owner of the Lion Park, said he was first notified of the wandering lions at 6 am yesterday.

“Two lions were found at the front gate [of the park] and this was when we first became aware that the others might have escaped,” he said.

A search party of about 20 Lion Park staff members, a helicopter pilot and a district official from Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) conservation authority searched for the remaining 10 lions throughout the morning.

The police and the EKZNW officials were notified, but were asked not to alert the public of the potential danger lurking in the tall grass.

Boswell said that the park did not want to involve the public for two reasons: “We did not want to be sent on wild goose chases looking for the lions … [incidentally] we received a call saying that two lions were spotted strolling down the road in Camperdown and this information was false.” They also did not wish to cause public panic.

A few hours later, eight other lions were found and lured back to holding cages in the park. They will remain there until the fence of their enclosure is re-erected. “We put meat on the trucks and they happily followed the trucks to a point where we could safely lock them away,” said Boswell.

The two lionesses at large were spotted by helicopter lying under a tree in fields about half a kilometre from from the reception area.

“We are hoping that they will walk back to the enclosure,” said Boswell, adding that they could not dart the lionesses because they are positioned close to thorny fields. If they are darted, the lions would be at risk of running into these fields, making it nearly impossible for the rangers to find them.

“We will have people stationed in the park to keep an eye on them the whole night if they do not come back before then,” he said.

Police spokesman Senior Superintendant Henry Budhram said he is glad the lions were captured without anyone being hurt.

Boswell assured The Witness that the situation is under control.

“Though it is under control, you sweat a lot and obviously have to practise a lot of responsibility. But nobody has been injured and no animals [including the lions] have been harmed or hurt,” he said.

The Witness was not allowed to enter the park for safety reasons.

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