The Department of Economic Development, Environment, Conservation and Tourism (DEDECT) confirms that all 14 lions that escaped from a privately owned Elandfontein farm, 5 km outside Lichtenburg (R505) along Ottoshoop last night were successfully recaptured.
After receiving a call a team comprising of Departmental Control Animal Specialists were urgently dispatched to the scene. The team accompanied by the South African Police Service (SAPS) managed to recapture 13 lions around 01h00, whilst one lion was lured and darted around 09h00.
"Upon arrival at the scene the team searched for the lions and determined that 11 lions were still inside the farm not far from the cage whilst 3 lions were outside the farm. The team lured 3 lions into back into the farm. We later had an engagement with the owner to determine the cause of the escape and found out that the other side of the fence was cut. We suspect that it might be an attempted poaching.
The Department is entrusted with the management and control of such roaming wild animals. Species like this are regulated by the Threatened and Protected Species regulations under the Biodiversity Act, and many activities involving the species, called restricted activities require permits to do so.
A thorough inspection was conducted to determine if the owner is still adhering to the conditions of the permit as outlined in their Management Plan and National Environmental Biodiversity Management Act (NEMBA) No 10 of 2004. It was found that the permit is still valid and the owner adheres to his permit conditions of safe keeping lions in the farm.
In terms of the plan the latest inspections at the Elandsfontien Farm was done by the Department in March 2020 and all the operations were still in order as per the permit conditions issued.
All the 14 lions are now safe in their enclosure in the farm and no fatalities reported. Further investigation will follow.
The team before they left the farm made sure that the owner have fixed the fence avoid endangering the lives of the neighbouring farms.
The Department thanked all officials and law enforcement for their prompt response in saving the lives of the communities of North West Province.