How five lions escaped from the Kruger Park

How did the five lions which terrified some residents of Mpumalanga manage to escape from the Kruger National Park?

Quite easily‚ it turns out. Curiosity probably got the better of them and they‚ just left.

SANParks acting managing executive for conservation services‚ Danie Pienaar‚ said on Wednesday that the lions most likely escaped via the Crocodile and Komati rivers.

Speaking at a media conference at SANParks headquarters in Pretoria‚ he said that the lions which escaped had not been evicted by another pride.

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“The lions inquisitively left the park. Rangers said the way in which they just lay next to the N4 indicated that they are used to people and cars‚” said Pienaar.

The Kruger National Park is the largest park in the country and is home to 1‚800 lions.

Pienaar said the park’s fencing could not be made impermeable and 24 hour surveillance was not possible.

“Fences are broken by large animals and trying to keep a lion in with a fence is difficult because they get through small holes‚” said Pienaar.

He added it was not uncommon for animals to leave the park. Habitual offenders‚ he added‚ were put down

The recaptured lions were not found to be habitual offenders and were put back in the park.

“The danger the lions pose to the public depends on the situation but predators don’t go around hunting people. When they see people during the day they run away‚” said Pienaar.

He urged the public to notify authorities instead of confronting animals if spotting them outside the boundaries of the park.

“When people try to chase the animal or run away from them it becomes a dangerous situation‚” he said.

The park has a compensation policy that pays out in the event that an animal from the park causes damage to private property.

The lions reportedly attacked cattle during their outing.

“We have good friendly relations with our neighbouring communities and where they are able to prove damage by an animal we pay out‚” said Pienaar.

He said about 20 incidents occur a year and on an annual basis R400‚000 is paid out.

Residents were particularly nervous at having the big cats on the loose. Police advised motorists to under no circumstances stop at the side of the road to answer the call of nature until the creatures were recaptured.

Four of the lions were recaptured and a search for the fifth was called off. Pienaar said the fifth lion could have walked back into the park and may have been in communication with its pride.


TMG Digital



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