‘Extremely skittish’ lion Sylvester given space to settle down

2016-04-03 08:56
Sylvester (SanParks)

Sylvester (SanParks)

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Cape Town – Sylvester the lion will have minimal human contact for now so he can settle down at a boma in the Karoo National Park, the SA National Parks (SANParks) said.

Journalists had apparently flooded it with requests to photograph or film the lion, following his recapture in the Nuweveld Mountains on Thursday, said spokeswoman Wanda Mkutshulwa in a statement.

She said the lion was extremely skittish, as expected, and they had decided to declare the area around boma off-limits to all non-essential staff, guests and the media.

“For his own safety, minimal human contact will be made, as the fear exists that he may harm himself by running into the boma’s electric fencing, as he may still believe he’s being chased.”

Second escape

The lion slipped out of the Karoo National Park a week ago, triggering a major hunt for him by wildlife authorities. The escape was Sylvester's second in as many years.

Last time, the three-year-old lion spent more than five months in the same holding boma before he was deemed ready to be released into the 93 000 hectare park.

On Thursday afternoon, he was found about 20kms from the park and darted from a helicopter.

Mkutshulwa said it took eight rangers nearly two hours to carry the sedated lion down the mountain in treacherous terrain to an awaiting vehicle, followed by another two-hour drive back to the park.

After his latest escape, SANParks announced it would put him down, but then back-tracked on the decision after objections from animal lovers.

Future

Mkutshulwa said a final decision on the lion’s future would be made once authorities agreed he had adequately settled down, and once they had thoroughly explored all options.

No timeframe was available for this.

“We remain committed to our conservation mandate and can give the assurance that whatever decision is taken will be in the best interests of the animal and conservation,” said SANParks CEO Fundisile Mketeni.

He said a thorough analysis of the translocation site would be conducted.

“Wherever we may take the lion, we will ensure that he is fully integrated in order to lessen the chances of a reoccurrence of the recent incident.”

Read more on:    sanparks  |  kimberley  |  animals  |  conservation

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