Local lion sightings report probably a hoax, says Ezemvelo official

2018-06-14 17:40
Social media was in an uproar on Wednesday morning after reports of lion sightings on the N3 near Umlaas Road. A WhatsApp group warned residents in the area to be on the alert after two lionesses were apparently seen crossing the freeway.

Social media was in an uproar on Wednesday morning after reports of lion sightings on the N3 near Umlaas Road. A WhatsApp group warned residents in the area to be on the alert after two lionesses were apparently seen crossing the freeway. (Ian Carbutt)

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Relax. There are probably no lions roaming free around Umlaas Road.

The reports about two lionesses on Wednesday morning sparked a frenzied hunt along the freeway between Camperdown and Ashburton for the big cats.

Facebook and WhatsApp groups were abuzz with the news of the two lionesses being seen “crossing the N3” in the vicinity of Umlaas Road.

The Witness was told that a woman driving from Ashburton toward Durban reportedly spotted the hind legs of what she believed to be two lionesses disappearing into the bush and called a local radio station with her news.

In a matter of minutes social media was in an uproar. Concerned farmers, residents and staff in the area posted alerts and expressed concern about the safety of their stock and pets. At least one worker in the vicinity of the Lion Park told The Witness that he feared for his life.

A traffic report on a local radio station also spread the news and a local resident said motorists started slowing down while passing through the area in the hopes of spotting the majestic beasts.

A local resident, who asked not to be named, said on Wednesday morning he was too scared to walk to his house in case he crossed paths with the lionesses.

It was also reported that staff at various companies in the area had refused to work on Wednesday morning after hearing about the alleged sighting.

KZN Lion Park owner Brian Boswell said that by 10 am on Wednesday, the park had received over 50 calls from media outlets, residents and local law enforcement authorities as there are no other lion parks, or lions in captivity on properties in that area.

“All our lions are accounted for,” said Boswell.

“We counted them three times this morning and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife has also come to check.

“From what we can gather, the woman who called in the sighting was driving early in the morning when it was still dark and did not see a tail, only hind legs,” said Boswell.

He said that it is suspected two Boerbulls from a local farm, which are often seen on the road, might have been mistaken for big cats.

“I am not saying there isn’t a lion out there as this has not been confirmed but it is highly unlikely as it is only me that has lions in this area,” he said.

An Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife source said the report about the lioness sighting had caused “hysteria and chaos” and that search parties and emergency groups were out all morning searching for the lionesses.

“We have called off the search. We are 90% sure the report was a hoax.”

Ezemvelo spokesperson Musa Mntambo confirmed the organisation were aware of the reports but said later as far as they knew, the report was a hoax.

 

 

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  lion sightings

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