Two park lions shot dead

2008-12-14 00:00

Two lions that were among the 12 that escaped from the Lion Park in Camperdown last month after a freak storm were killed by poachers early on Saturday morning.

The two were shot inside their enclosure and dragged away by poachers, perhaps for muthi purposes, leaving the park with just 14 lions.

The male lion and the lioness were killed in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Brian Boswell, the owner of the Lion Park, said he heard two gunshots and when he went to investigate, he found the lion enclosure was empty and there was a lot of blood inside.

There were marks showing that the two carcasses were dragged and loaded on to vehicles.

He said the enclosure, which was rebuilt after the storm, was secure, The poachers went through three padlocked gates — breaking and stealing the locks — to get to where the lions were located.

Although he could not confirm it, Boswell said he suspects the killing of the two lions is related to muthi making.

“This is the first time that a lion has been killed in the enclosure,” said Boswell.

“Although there is no evidence, I suspect that the lions were killed for muthi because I’ve heard that the lion fat is useful for muthi.”

This was not the first time Boswell and his park have been attacked by poachers.

The Witness has previously published stories about other animals there apparently killed for muthi. These included a hyena, a lion cub and a 75-year-old Seychelles tortoise, which was stolen and sold by a former employee.

The muthi-killing theory was echoed by Detective Inspector Riaan van Rooyen of the organised crime unit in Pietermaritzburg dealing with wildlife crimes. He said that although the investigation is still in its early stages, his professional opinion is that this was muthi killing.

“[Some] inyangas and witchdoctors use the lion skin for muthi purposes. However, this is the first time that lions were hunted down and killed,” said Van Rooyen.

Van Rooyen appealed to anyone with information that could assist in the investigation to contact him at 083 448 5319.

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