Crowd swamps rescuers for selfies with escaped lions

2017-05-10 11:07

Komatipoort – "Wow, it really is wonderful that God made all these animals," said Oupa Ngutshane as he stroked the tranquilised lion.

The lion was the first of four found on Tuesday after they had escaped from the Kruger National Park. The fifth escaped lion is still missing, Netwerk24 reported.

- Update: Search continues for last of five escaped Kruger lions

Ngutshane, a sales manager at a beverage company in Komatipoort, had made a special effort to drive to the search area near the town. 

"I am glad the lions are being tranquilised and not shot, so that my children and grandchildren can also get a chance to see them."

There were many inquisitive bystanders while helicopters on Tuesday afternoon circled overhead and a lion was shot with a tranquiliser dart.


An escaped lion is carried after being darted with a tranquiliser. (Alet Joubert/Netwerk24)

"Look, he’s just shot," a woman in a pastel-coloured crocheted top exclaimed when the chopper circled just above the crowd.

Later, there were so many bystanders next to the R571 that barriers had to be erected around the bakkie transporting the lion. It didn’t help much. The crowd stormed the bakkie, cellphones held high. One man even took a selfie with the lion before jumping off the bakkie.

On the bakkie, SANParks’ head vet Dr Markus Hofmeyr was having a torrid time. "We are trying our best to catch the lions, but it’s difficult."

The huge public interest made it even more difficult.

Search suspended

A member of the search party who wasn’t officially authorised to address the media, said: "Normally we capture escaped animals without much attention. With so many people here, mistakes might be made."

By 16:30, the search had been extended in the direction of the N4 and within 15 minutes another lion was tranquilised. Despite earlier warnings that lions were still on the loose in the area, people remained standing outside their vehicles to watch what was going on.

The search for the last of the escaped lions in an adjoining sugarcane field was suspended due to poor light.

"They are all young males which were probably kicked out by their pride," said SANParks spokesperson Ike Phaahla.

Animals escaping from the Kruger aren’t uncommon in the area. The Komati River, which forms a natural border with the game reserve, is very low at the moment. "Last week we darted five buffalo here and returned them to the park," said Phaahla.


Read more on:    sanparks  |  mbombela  |  animals

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Inside News24

 
Watch: Investing in the future through child development

An investment of R32-million into 11 early childhood development centres is changing the future for children in the Northern Cape.

Partner Content
What all investors should know about index investing

Index-linked investments are growing fast in popularity globally, and are growing in size and complexity too.

/Africa
 

Makeover saves dog’s life

Lucky Charlie got a complete make-over that helped him get adopted.

 
 

Paws

For the love of Corgis!
Can we communicate with our pets?
8 great natural remedies for your pet
Buying a puppy? Don’t get scammed!
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.