Lost Karoo lion evades rangers, but officials appeal for calm

2019-02-25 13:24
Lion walks in the veld. (File photo)

Lion walks in the veld. (File photo)

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Rangers and trackers have appealed for calm in the Karoo after a lion escaped from the game park last week.

The male lion, estimated to be between two and four years old, escaped from the Karoo National Park outside Beaufort West and rangers have been tracking the predator.

READ: Rangers get brief glimpse of escaped Karoo Park lion

"We've read reports that people are living in fear because of this lion, but it's moving in the opposite direction of the town (Beaufort West)," Reynold "Rey T" Thakhuli, SANParks general manager for media, PR and stakeholder relations told News24.

After briefly spotting the lion last week, they lost the spoor when it entered a deep gorge.

"It evaded them again deep into that gorge, and because it's a rocky area, it is expected that the spoor would be lost."

Difficult search

Last week, News24 reported that helicopters were brought in to help find the lion which is believed to have killed an eland.

Fourteen rangers and trackers are involved in a difficult search and a helicopter and vet remain on standby if the animal is spotted.

"They've been looking for this lion for over a week and we are re-strategising by resting half of the team. They will alternate for this week," said Thakhuli.

"They are very tired."

Aim is to capture, not kill

He insisted though, that the plan remained to capture rather than kill the lion, despite the risk it posed to the tracking team.

"We are going dart it. They (the team) have the necessary equipment. If it's too deep in the difficult terrain, we'll close it up and call the helicopter which is on standby."

Owners of land bordering Highlands farm, to the north-east of the park, have been advised to report any sightings of the lion to the nearest police station or to 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 went missing and was found after an extensive search.

Thakhuli warned that a search and capture operation could take some time.

"Sylvester was way over two weeks – that was the longest (search) we had with a lion."

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