Lion cubs rescued from smugglers

2012-01-20 10:33

Kimberley - Two young lion cubs that were presumably smuggled across the Botswana border into South Africa at McCarthy’s Rest were found in the possession of three men during a police trap between Kuruman and Hotazel on Thursday morning.

The three suspected smugglers were arrested and the Kalahari lion cubs were taken to a place of safety.

It was the second incident in a month in which wild cats were allegedly smuggled across the border. Last month, a cheetah was also smuggled across the border.


Kuruman police station commander Colonel Sampie Koopman said information had been received regarding a possible transaction involving lions.

The National Prosecuting Authority and the Green Scorpions were involved.

“The cattle theft unit and crime intelligence unit set a trap. This morning at about 02:00 we stopped a vehicle on the road between Hotazel and Kuruman. There were three men in the vehicle. We also found the two lion cubs. The blackmarket value of the lions is R500 000," Koopman said on Thursday.

He added that they were grateful for the information received from the public.

Northern Cape deputy director of nature conservation and environmental affairs, Obopeng Gaorelwe, said the lion cubs were male and female and were about two months old.


They were probably from the free ranging Kalahari lions found in Botswana. It is unclear what had happened to their mother.

Local vet Dr Gerhard van der Westhuizen examined the cubs on Thursday morning and said they were weak due to exposure to rain.

“They drank milk twice. It was initially difficult for the cubs to get used to the bottle.”

The three suspected smugglers - two Botswana nationals and a South African with dual-nationality - will appear in the Kuruman Magistrate’s Court on Monday. They will be charged with the illegal importation and possession of protected animals without the necessary permits.

It would be the first trial under the new Northern Cape Nature Conservation Act, which makes provision for more serious sentences.

  • Janice - 2012-01-20 10:45

    Thank God they were found!!! What is this world coming to?

      Ann - 2012-01-20 11:46

      Good work green scorpions :)

  • Ian - 2012-01-20 10:46

    bastards, hang the rubbish, savages

  • Tonya - 2012-01-20 10:47

    Well done savings these beautiful cubs!!

  • Simone - 2012-01-20 10:47

    OMG!!! Are the bastards starting on the big cats now.... wonder what happened to the mother then!!! I cannot believe this, this must be the worst news I have heard this week. They should never have opened the boarders for a transfronteir park, if people had done their homework they would have known this will happen. God bless our wildlife is all I can say unfortunately we live in a society where money is the deciding factor. If their wasn't a buyer there would not be a poacher!!!!

  • natasha.fukuchi - 2012-01-20 10:50

    If these 2 were found, how many more get smuggled without detection? I can truly say that I am embarrassed to be part of this human race... :(

  • Nitro - 2012-01-20 10:51

    Hang them

  • cosmos.ndebele - 2012-01-20 10:56

    Savages, leave lions in the wild baaastrdssssss

  • Nicholas - 2012-01-20 11:04

    Public flogging, then jail.

  • Lee - 2012-01-20 11:11

    Great, good start for 2012, catch as many as possible and hand down the worst punishment. Now lets do more for our Rhino.

  • petra.nicol - 2012-01-20 11:16

    Thank goodness these two little souls were found in time. The worst realisation is that their destiny was, without a doubt, a canned lion-hunting set-up...... how many more have been snuck through undetected & now face that fate? Botswana has some of the worlds most protective wildlife laws (hats off to them!!), & the animals are all much safer there (not to say there isn't controlled hunting there, but there is far greater control & big sentences for transgressions. Sincere thank you to those who had the guts to come forward with the information laeding to their rescue :)

      ubhejane - 2012-01-20 14:20

      I loved it when you called them two little souls!!!! That is indeed what they are!

  • Pieter - 2012-01-20 11:19

    I have a better idea. Through them in jail and when the cats are big enough feed them to these cats!

  • frans.grobler3 - 2012-01-20 11:27

    In the jungle the mighty jungle the f"^ckers sleep tonight.

  • procold2 - 2012-01-20 11:44

    janice, its not the world its the people,apparently there is a lot of money in lion bones also some cure for something in the east, our borders are open and crossing from one country to the next is easy, we need our sandf to patrol all borders like they did pre 1994 and poachers to be shot on sight.

  • Saffa - 2012-01-20 11:46

    I'm not sure why we humans whinge about hurricanes, flooding, extreme heat, storms and the sort. Tis purely natures way of kicking humanity in the @ss for all the evil deeds humans carry out against animals and the environment. Sick world....and sometime in the future nature is going to kick @ss for the final time - and sadly, we deserve it.

  • thozi - 2012-01-20 11:49

    Lock them up for three years, then reintroduce them to the same lions, preferably in a high-fenced off area - the size of a football field. Video record the action that follows for posterity.

  • Narike - 2012-01-20 11:56

    Hope that the cubs survive to grow up strong and free - inasmuch that's possible in the hideous world we have made

  • jacqueline.j.nel1 - 2012-01-20 12:07

    Thank Goodness! The question now is where is their mommy? Shame, this is terrible!

  • Penny - 2012-01-20 12:13

    I despair at the amount of wildlife trafficking going on in Africa,due to unsufficient monitoring, short sightedness,lack of political will by various African heads of state and pressure by numerous Animal rights groups that have very little clout on this dark continent of ours. This situation will only get worse unless serious penalities are put in place along with education programmes for local communities and more importantly jobs in the Tourism sector. Talk about killing the goose that laid the golden egg.... Now that Africa is China's bitch the wholesale slaughter of wildlife will increase and animal freak shows like the ones in China will be regular entertainment for the masses! God help us all!

  • Ziona - 2012-01-20 12:30

    Good make an example out of them, this is getting out of hand!!!!

  • Shirley - 2012-01-20 12:38

    Cut off their hands so they can NEVER do this again! You can judge a person by the way he/she treats animals and the ugly truth is society has a lot of heartless and useless individuals on it who are busy stripping the earth steadily of all these wonderful creatures! Thank you for this wonderful rescue green scorpians and I pray the cubs make a full recovery and go on to live the kind of life lions were intended to live!!!

  • Jacki - 2012-01-20 13:15

    I hope they make an example of these smugglers by issuing a very harsh sentence especially when there is the possibility of the killing of the cubs mother. Well done to the N.P.A and The Green Scorpions,congrats.

  • Keighley-Ann - 2012-01-20 13:20

    Excellent work all those involved...this makes me breathe a sigh of relief...I hope that these babies are well looked after and given back to the wild...their rightful owner!

  • Jacki - 2012-01-20 13:20

    I hope they make an example of these smugglers and impose a harsh sentence as there is the possibility that the cub's mother has been killed. Congrats and well done to the N.P.A and the Green Scorpions for a co-joined success.

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