Caught with lion cubs
A Giyani traditional healer has been arrested for keeping two lion cubs on his premises after a tip-off from members of the community.
The traditional healer was arrested at Mahlathi village near the Kruger National Park on Tuesday.
Members of the local community informed nature conservationists, who called the police.
Police officers went to the 65-year-old man's house, where they found the cubs in a cage.
On further investigation the police also discovered a lion skin, believed to be that of the mother of the two cubs.
Police spokesman Superintendent Moatshe Ngoepe said it was unusual and "illegal" for a person to keep "such dangerous animals" on his premises.
"We have launched an investigation to find out how the animals ended up in the man's possession," Ngoepe said yesterday.
He said the cubs had been taken for medical examination to determine whether they were in a good state of health. It is not known how long they were kept in captivity.
Sources in the area say unscrupulous villagers cut the fences separating their villages from the Kruger Park to allow animals to stray into the village so that they can catch them.
The villagers say the animals' carcasses and skins were mainly used for muti purposes.
"But it is dangerous to keep an endangered species in one's yard," said Lehlogonolo Masoga, spokesman for the provincial department of economic development, environment and tourism.
Masoga said poaching was a criminal offence and that anyone engaging in such activities would be punished.
"It is even worse to poach designated endangered species such as lions," he warned. "It is a serious offence.
"We want to commend the public for blowing the whistle on the traditional healer and crime in general. We will stop at nothing to fight environmental crime." .