Alert over 3 missing lions, while another 3 poisoned in suspected muthi killing

2018-04-28 21:09
A Free State farmer was shocked to find the paws and jaws of three of his lions cut off.  (Supplied)

A Free State farmer was shocked to find the paws and jaws of three of his lions cut off. (Supplied)

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A Free State farmer is in shock after discovering three of his lions killed and mutilated, seemingly for certain body parts, while three others are missing.

"I came upon the most ugly scene I have ever seen in my life," Gert Claasen told News24 on Saturday, after police issued an urgent alert to residents of the area to be on the look out for the lions in case they are still alive.

Claasen is almost certain the remaining three lions are dead after the gruesome discovery at his farm on Thursday morning, but police are taking no chances.

Bethlehem Police spokesperson Captain Zweli Mohobeleli said three lions, one white and two brown females, are missing and unaccounted for. 

"It is not yet known if they are dead, loaded or on the loose. We urge neighbouring farmers and communities to immediately alert the nearest police or call Lt Colonel Smith of Fouriesburg Stock Theft and Endangered Species Unit on 082 466 8667 when the lions are sighted," he urged.

"Our immediate concern is for the safety of people and property or livestock."

A case of contravention of the Biodiversity Act was opened for investigation and a veterinarian has extracted samples for analysis. 

'A muthi killing'

Claasen said the attackers only cut off the lions' jaws and paws, leaving the mutilated carcasses of three behind.

"I am suspecting it was a muthi killing," said Claasen. He understood that some people believe lion body parts will bring extremely good luck "like winning the lottery".

A preliminary examination of the dead lions indicated that they ate poisoned chicken.

Claasen suspects the lions were lured to the edge of their 5 hectare enclosure by people who "knew what they were doing".

A hole was also cut in the fence of the enclosure.

He kept the lions because he loved them, said Claasen, who explained that he romped with them when they were cubs.

"Even our workers cried when they saw the lions. It was definitely not an inside job," he said.

Two of the five lionesses that were targeted were pregnant and were about to give birth.

Two weeks ago Claasen's dogs were also poisoned, and now he has increased his security.

He said that when he went to see his lions on Wednesday, "they were 100%".

Now he his planning their burial.

Read more on:    bloemfontein

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