Pietermaritzburg - An escaped tiger was killed just hours after it had been spotted basking in the sun near a paddock that housed a stallion and mare.The tiger, believed to be a male, escaped from his enclosure at the Lion Park, near Cato Ridge, on Wednesday afternoon only to be tracked and shot on Thursday morning by a professional hunter who used a sniffer dog after the threat of darting the wild cat became too risky.An attempt to shoot the tiger on Wednesday afternoon failed, causing the big cat to flee into the nearby thicket. The owner of the farm, who asked not be named, said she had been preparing meals for her horses at around 16:15 on Wednesday when staff ran to her and said they had spotted a tiger on the property.“I thought they had probably seen a caracal in the bushes or something, but one of my staff led me down to the paddock where I keep my stallion, and sure enough, there was a tiger strolling around on the grass.“He seemed quite relaxed. He could have run out and charged us if he wanted to, but he just lay down. He was not interested in the horses,” she said.After she called a friend who alerted the Lion Park owner Brian Boswell, owner of Brian Boswell’s circus, two men arrived armed with a shotgun.“I assumed that they would bring a tranquilliser but they explained that only a vet could use a dart gun. “The men said because they did not have a clear view and were worried about the tiger being so close to other animals and people, they had to shoot him.”Moments later two shots were fired — both missing the large target — and the tiger disappeared in the bush for the remainder of Wednesday evening.Boswell said although it was both sad and unfortunate that the tiger was put down, it was absolutely necessary.“Tigers are extremely dangerous animals. It was on a property where animals were kept and where children, elderly people and staff were living and working and we could not risk the tiger killing anyone so we made the tough decision to put it down.”Boswell said KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife put them in touch with a professional hunter, and along with a local vet, they went out to find the tiger on Thursday.“We were told by the vet that it would have been too dangerous to dart the tiger, as the tranquilliser would have taken up to 20 minutes to work.”Boswell said the professional hunter, who he would not identify, had brought a sniffer dog with him to track the tiger, which they found and “put down with one shot” at around 07:30 on Thursday morning.