Escaped Limpopo lions were living in 'deplorable' conditions: NSPCA

The NSPCA wildlife protection unit found underweight captive lions living in unhygienic conditions at a Limpopo game farm.
The NSPCA wildlife protection unit found underweight captive lions living in unhygienic conditions at a Limpopo game farm.

The Limpopo game farm where seven lions escaped this week is facing allegations that the animals were being kept in "deplorable" conditions. 

The National Council of SPCAs (NSPCA) wildlife protection unit said on Wednesday that it found underweight captive lions living in deplorable conditions at the facility, as well as another captive lion facility in the province. The investigation was triggered by a complaint about underweight lions.

The unit discovered a lack of adequate shelter, a lack of veterinary treatment, as well as unhygienic and small enclosures.

Together with the provincial department of economic development, environment and tourism, it was agreed that the lions were facing a dire situation and urgent intervention was required.

Unit manager Douglas Wolhuter said they were assured that feeding was being addressed urgently.

He said the NSPCA was in the process of laying charges against the owner, with the submission of scientific and medical evidence from what the veterinarian witnessed during the inspection.

Wolhuter said the NSPCA was informed on Tuesday that seven of the lions housed at one of the two facilities had escaped. The lions were recaptured early that evening . Photographs circulating show a deterioration in the lions’ condition.

“We believe that permits should never have been granted to keep lions, or any other predators like tigers, as not only was the fencing wholly inadequate but there are specific dramatic shortfalls on the welfare of these animals – and their welfare has consistently been compromised,” he said.

The council has issued further warnings in terms of contraventions of the Animals Protection Act to all roleplayers concerned. 

Wolhuter said a deadline had been issued for an action plan regarding the animals and the council was taking further legal action that would see criminal charges brought about. He added that there was a history of neglect at these facilities, which bear a significant influence on the current matter. 

Limpopo police spokesperson Brig Motlafela Mojapelo said the council had not yet opened the case by Wednesday afternoon.

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