Fresh spoor 60km from Karoo National Park brings new hope of finding lion lost for 2 weeks

2019-03-01 13:27
Lion. (file)

Lion. (file)

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The efforts of trackers in the Karoo have been rejuvenated after rangers found fresh spoor in their search for a lion that escaped from the Karoo National Park outside Beaufort West.

The male lion, estimated to be between 2 and 4 years old, escaped from the park on February 15 and rangers lost its spoor when it entered a gorge.

However, on Friday, they found fresh spoor to track the predator.

"This fresh spoor that we are following now actually came from a farmer and we are getting good help to find this lion," Reynold "Rey T" Thakhuli, SANParks general manager for media, PR and stakeholder relations told News24 on Friday.

READ: Lost Karoo lion evades rangers, but officials appeal for calm

The spoor is more than 60km from the park and was tracked through difficult terrain.

Puzzlement

Thakhuli expressed the team's puzzlement at the distance the lion travelled.

"It's a mystery to me. The area there is quite tough; it's very rocky. You can't even access it with a vehicle and we followed it (the lion) into that rocky area.

"It's moving toward the northern part of the park."

READ: Rangers get brief glimpse of escaped Karoo Park lion

The search team, which has a helicopter on standby as well as a vet, remained in the area where the lion was spotted until well after dark on Thursday, but could not find the animal.

The lion last made a kill of an eland several days ago, said Thakhuli, and the rangers have not found any evidence of a fresh kill.

"No other kill has been found and it should be very hungry by now. The last kill was last week."

The search team has been split to allow some to rest and police members from the livestock unit have joined the search.

'Definite determination'

Despite some setbacks, the team is intent on finding the lion and returning him to the park.

"They (team members) are tired but there is definite determination to find this lion. We will not rest until we find it and return it to the park," said Thakhuli.

Landowners have been advised to report any sightings of the lion to the nearest police station or to call the park directly on 023 415 2828.

It's not the first time a lion has gone missing in the area.

In 2016, 4-year-old Sylvester the lion went missing and was found after an extensive search.

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