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Communities in fear after animals escape from Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park

Suthentira Govender Senior reporter
One of the escaped white rhinos has been recaptured.
One of the escaped white rhinos has been recaptured.
Image: Supplied

Communities living near the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park in northern KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday said they are living in fear after the recent escape of wild animals from the Big Five park.

In the most recent incident on Tuesday two white rhinos escaped. One was found on Wednesday.

Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife spokesperson Musa Mntambo told TimesLIVE that one of the rhinos had been recaptured.

“I still need to verify whether the other rhino went back into the park,” he said.

Mntambo said he was also trying to establish how a 45-year-old woman from a nearby community was injured during the rhino escape drama.

“Reports indicate that she fell as she was running from the rhino that had been shot at by a community member,” Mntambo said.

Msizi Myaka, of the Okhukho and Nqulwane community committee, said residents in the area had to do something because the white rhinos were spotted near two schools.

“We sighted a black rhino which was 200m away from the houses yesterday.”

The black rhino was not captured despite a helicopter search. Myaka said the dispatching of helicopters to search for escaped animals “takes long so communities had to do something. They were trying to protect the pupils. They were shooting at it because there was nothing else they could do. It was running all over the place.”

He said communities have made numerous appeals to wildlife authorities to ensure that wild animals don't escape from the park.

“They are endangering the lives of members of the community around here.”

He said a buffalo had also recently escaped and was spotted 1km from where three elephants were killed in Ulundi in 2020.

In a letter to recently appointed Ezemvelo chair Lydia Johnson, Myaka said: “It is deplorable and gross negligence that wildlife are continuously escaping from the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park and this has endangered human lives.”

He said in the letter that a helicopter was sent 21 hours after the buffalo escape and it was not found.


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