South African National Parks (SANParks) would like to urge residents of Komatipoort and adjacent areas in Mpumalanga to exercise extra caution as five lions believed to have escaped from the Kruger National Park (KNP) are roaming the area.
According to SANParks spokesperson, Rey Thakhuli a resident reported a sighting of about five lions on the N4 / Mananga Road crossing in Komatipoort yesterday morning (Monday, 8 May 2017). “The person alerted the officials who then went out to chase the lions back into the park… however it is believed that they had managed to find their way back to the area and had disappeared in the sugar cane farms about four kilometres away from the KNP.”
Thakhuli said, as per the protocols between KNP and Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) will lead the search operation with support from SANParks Rangers and SA Police Service. “It is believed the animals are still in the area and might have split up at the moment due to spectator value and people wanting to take pictures of the animals.”
“He said this is not an easy operation as the animals are believed to be in sugar cane farms and the area is known for its thick fog in the morning, which makes the search operation quite difficult. However we are doing everything in our power to return the animals safe into the park… as we speak a helicopter with a vet have been dispatched to dart the animals.”
We urge people to refrain from taking photographs of these animals as they are dangerous predators… and believed to have already killed a cow”, said Thakhuli.
He said investigations are underway to determine how the lions managed to leave the park.
SANParks would like to reiterate the police call for residents to be extra vigilant and report any sighting of these dangerous predators to the authorities on 080010111, 0768019679 or 013 735 0197.
Further updates will follow until all the lions have been successfully captured.