Escaped lion instils fear in Limpopo

2011-03-10 12:41

Thohoyandou - A huge male lion is still on the loose around Thohoyandou, Limpopo.

Frank Muthelo, senior inspector for wildlife trade and regulations at the Vhembe district municipality, said the lion was one of three lions, including two males and one female, that escaped either from the Makuye Nature Reserve or the Kruger National Park on Saturday.

He said game rangers managed to shoot and kill two of the animals on Monday afternoon in Ngezimane village near Thohoyandou. The lions had already killed three cows.

“On Tuesday morning we spotted tracks of the remaining male in Matatani village between Musina and Thohoyandou. Community members in that area are urged to immediately call authorities if they spot the lion, they must not try to be heroes because this animal is probably hungry and dangerous,” said Muthelo on Wednesday.

Muthelo said the police and experienced game rangers started looking for the lions on Saturday.

Voters scared off

“The game rangers and the police are still following tracks of the missing lion in the Matatani village. We will definitely kill him when we find him because we have the responsibility to protect human lives and livestock,” he said.

He said an investigation had been launched to determine how the lions escaped.

“We have contacted both the Makuye Nature Reserve and the Kruger to alert them about the lions, but none confirmed whether they belonged to them or not,” Muthelo said.

Kruger spokesperson William Mabasa said Kruger officials had only heard about the lions on radio.

“Our rangers have not reported any escaped lions. We only heard about these lions on the radio and we are not sure if they are ours or not, maybe they are from Makuye Nature Reserve,” said Mabasa.

Meanwhile, provincial chief electoral officer for the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Nkaro Matete told journalists that some villagers from around Musina and Thohoyandou were too afraid to register for the May 18 local government elections after reports about the roaming lions.

“We received reports from our officials that people were scared off from several voting stations because of fear of the lions,” said Matete during a press conference in Polokwane on Monday.

Spokesperson for the Mutale local municipality in Thohoyandou Phiathu Rabura said the reports of the missing lion had instilled fear within local communities.

Panjo escape

“The fears are reminiscent of the fear caused by Panjo the famous tiger that went missing in Mpumalanga last year,” said Rabura.

Panjo, a 17-month old Bengal tiger at the time, caused panic in Mpumalanga in July last year when he escaped from the back of his owner’s bakkie between Groblersdal and Delmas.

The tiger lived on its owner Goosey Fernandes's Jugomaro Game Farm near Groblersdal in Limpopo, but was on his way to Gauteng via Mpumalanga for a visit to a vet.

Some parents even kept their children out of school until the tiger was captured.

Panjo was finally found on the farm Swartkoppies in Verena by a tracking dog called Zingela, two days after he went missing. Zingela was used to track wounded animals in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve. The tiger's spoor had first been picked up by tracker Johnson Mhlanga from Singita Lodge in Mpumalanga.

  • Madelane - 2011-03-10 14:08

    Poor creatures.....big brave men with guns will kill him as well for daring to roam free.....we as a species are truly so barbaric.

  • Bantu - 2011-03-10 14:21

    What would you do if they can Kill your family member, tranquilise them or KILL them?

      24newsreader - 2011-03-10 14:27

      tranquillise them!

      paulmandlankosi - 2011-03-10 14:30

      I will kill them

      Flee - 2011-03-10 16:17

      Bantu, Lion attacks are generally few and far between and normally under extenuating circumstances.... Normally in captive situations... AAAnnnd Sorry I would say Dart... they do not have an inbred guide on who and what to eat when... They are wild animals...

  • Maddi - 2011-03-10 14:29

    What really p*sses me off is that when the tiger went missing, no stone was left unturned and no expense spared, even from private citizens. Yet these lions are killed on sight without them having taken a human life.

      Flee - 2011-03-10 16:41

      Maddi that was a domesticated, privately owned animal.. not a lion from a park... Domesticated "large" animals tend to be more dangerous as they do not fear humans, roads and the likes, and tend to not have the natural homing "devices" that other animals would still have.... And Panjo, was still on milk so he needed his bottle...

  • Carolyn - 2011-03-10 14:46

    Why Kill him, he has hurt no one as yet, rather keep your bullets for the ANC who are doing more harm then one single lion, The lion also has a right to live.

  • Mike Amira - 2011-03-10 14:47

    Firstly Shoot the lion?? Are these ' experienced' game rangers thick or something? It has not killed anyone and can't help the fact that it is a predatory animal on the loose!Stupid decision. Ignorant human beings.oh and secondly at least the voters were scared off thats a few less 'Majority Party' votes in Limpopo hahaha

  • Guy - 2011-03-10 15:21

    Wow, what a lot of experts we suddenly have! There is an excess of lions in the western part of the Greater Limpopo transfrontier park, so naturally lions without teritories will need to spread beyond the borders. Darting them and returning them is unfortunately not really an option. If there were space to put them , I agree, but to call people "idiots" because they understand what is needed and do their job is a bit excessive. Madelane, calling the people who had to shoot these lions "big brave men" and "barbaric" without thinking about how they may feel is just closed-minded. Not sure we would all be so keen to "leave them to roam" if they were in our back yard, Of but of course we have big walls and fences to protect us!

      Madelane - 2011-03-10 15:47

      The only creature in excess on this planet is mankind Guy and having spent much time with 'wild' creatures I can understand your rather standard human response to any creature that affects your 'well being' and that is to kill it be it a Lion or a Mole that dares to disturb your pristine lawn.

      Pixie1984 - 2011-03-10 15:48

      Who said that they should be located to the "Limpopo transfrontier park"? They can be safely darted and relocated to any park around the country that can accommodate them. I get that cows are valuable but its better to eat the cows than people right? People shouldn't moan. This is Africa.

      karla - 2011-03-11 16:55

      This is the only sensible thing I have read here. Its not so cut and dry! If we are going to conserve our wildlife we have to have management interventions that are sustainable. (I don't know enough to know if its the right decision, but I do suspect that it would be more prudent (but sad!) to kill the lions and spend that money where its more urgently needed to achieve conservation goals with tax payers money.) Its very good to appreciate the intrinsic value of life and want to protect it. Good motive. But management decisions are tough decisions, juggling tight budgets with multiple objectives (other species, perhaps less gregarious that aren't doing as well as lion populations?) Does anyone know if these lions are infected with TB? Then relocating them to another park would be out of the question whatever the expense. Like I said, its good to feel strongly and want to protect animals - to want to steward this wonderful resource of ours well, but its been my experience spending years studying the facts of wildlife management that "greenies" who have strong, emotional but uninformed opinions do little to serve real conservation goals. I just wish the energy was better channeled. We really do need people to care!

  • Santapola - 2011-03-10 15:56

    Kill the damn thing fast before it kills a human being...who cares about a wild animal? Mxh

      Flee - 2011-03-10 16:42

      Spatula your a spoon...

  • kerry.nel1 - 2011-03-10 20:36

    How the hell do those poor lions know that they are not allowed to escape...... it was due to humans that the lions escaped, poachers most proberly snipped the fence, and now the poor things have to be shot, it makes me so mad, those are not game rangers, they don't even derserve to be working with animals..... at the rate this is going our grandchildren and greatgrandchildren won't even know what a wild animal looks like.... So you eat a cow, you get shot pathetic...

  • Loftus - 2011-03-11 10:16

    If I remember correctly Lions are on the Red list of CITES as endangered species. If the reports are true that game rangers shot two of the female lions how on earth can our rangers claim that they conserve lions by killing them. Somebody must be held accountable for what is going on here. And somebody from the conservation agencies must come and explain why they didn't dart the lions.

  • Susannomore - 2011-03-22 07:13

    That's right - just shoot the poor buggers. Please don't consider darting, that would be far to simple and human. You people make me sick. The only way they could have escaped if due to bad fence maintenance.

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