19 February 2019

South Africa: Rangers Hot On the Trail of Escaped Karoo Park Lion

Rangers are on the trail of a lion on the loose from the Karoo National Park.

On Tuesday, rangers found a fresh spoor on a farm neighbouring the park.

"It [an escape] doesn't happen that often, but we deal with it on a case-by-case basis," Reynold "Rey T" Thakhuli, SANParks general manager for Media, PR and Stakeholder Relations, told News24 on Tuesday.

Park manager Nico van der Walt said rangers had patrolled a huge area on Monday, covering two farms, and that the spoor was found at 16:30.

"Although it is difficult to tell how fresh the spoor is, at least this is a positive break in the search."

Rain

Thakhuli said that high rainfall in the area had created a hole under a fence, and that the lion had taken advantage of it to escape the 1 000km 2 park.

"They had a lot of rain and some soil eroded under a fence," he said, adding that the lion could have been motivated to escape the park because of a fight over territory.

He said that escapes were more common in the much larger Kruger National Park.

Thakhuli said officials had closed the hole under the fence and urged the public not to approach the lion under any circumstances.

"They [the public] must not try and approach this lion. They must stay far from this lion and inform the nearest police station or call the park itself."

The Karoo National Park can be contacted on 023 415 2828.

Residents of the Karoo town of Beaufort West were warned on Friday of the lion's escape.

"On Friday, we had a marathon, but we had to change our route," said municipal spokesperson Marlene Hendricks on Monday.

She explained that there were concerns that the lion may have been wandering along the running trail. The marathon went ahead, but on a different route to avoid the possibility of an unwanted run-in.

Source: News24

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