Cape Town - Concern has been raised about future escapes, as three Kruger lions were shot to death after escaping the park, the second escape in just over two months.
The lions, believed to have escaped the park on Sunady 11, July, had been considered "damaging causing animals" after attacking a farmer’s livestock and forcing the fatal action. This despite efforts by SANParks rangers and the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency's (MTPA) efforts to locate them - including a helicopter search after the animals were believed to have entered the rocky Crocodile gorge.
MTPA says it is investigating how they escaped in order to prevent this from happening in future. Mpumalanga Tourism spokesperson, Kholofelo Nkambule, told Traveller24 that although at this stage it’s difficult to determine how they escaped, they believe the lions might have crawled through the fence or found a gap in a spruit (a small water-cause).
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In May five lions escaped from the park, launching a two-day search for the animals. Mabasa says it is unclear if these were the same lions.
These male lions were believed to have been forced out by a larger pride of lions in the park. They were successfully darted and re-captured without incident and dropped off "deep inside Kruger” at the time.
SEE: Shock reactions as 3 missing Kruger lions shot dead
Nkambule says, "The area that they were spotted on initially was the N4 national road then later found in Boulders by Mara Valley which is approximately 15km from Kruger National Park. It might be that they crawled through the fence or found a gap in a spruit, but we are not sure."
"Regular fence patrols are conducted and repairs are done as and when required to avoid such incidents from happening, but anything can happen."
Nkambule says the lions skins have been salvaged and carcasses used for research purposes by the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA). Once the research is complete then they will be destroyed.
ALSO SEE: UPDATE: Lions still on the loose while SANparks workers plan a strike
The lions were shot killed by a farmer after the three killed the farmer's cattle on Wednesday evening.
"Last night the lions killed cattle in one of the farm areas. The owner of the farm shot at the lions and killed one and wounded another," says SANParks spokesperson William Mabasa.
'Within his right'
And according to Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency, the farmer was within his right to shoot the animals and will not be prosecuted according to the law in terms of "damage-causing animals".
"He acted within his right to protect himself and his asset which is the cattle in this instance,” a spokesperson for the agency says.
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