South African authorities are searching for five lions which reportedly escaped from an unknown sanctuary and believed to be roaming in Gauteng – the country’s most populous province.
One of the lions was first spotted in the Fochville area weeks ago. Police officers raised the alarm after they spotted the animals not too far from a livestock carcass while on patrol.
Search teams have so far been unable to establish where the predators came from. The lions were last seen on Friday, September 8, 2017.
Confirming the development on Saturday, September 9, the Rural Safety Coordinator of Fochville in Western Johannesburg, South Africa, Warrant Officer Jan Esterhuysen said:
“We responded to a distress call and were surprised to see a pride of five lions in a farm at Fochville, busy feeding.
“We identified a large male and four smaller lions. Tracking them at night was difficult.”
Esterhuysen disclosed that nature conservation and other role players were converging on the area to assess the situation.
As the search for the five lions on the loose continues, a conservation group, ‘Captured in Africa Foundation’ admits that the search is costing them quite a lot with additional resources being provided by the Johannesburg and Pretoria zoos.
Founder of Captured in Africa, Drew Abrahamson disclosed that they’ve experienced funding problems with the search saying:
“Funding is always an issue when you have to do things like this. You have to cover your veterinary costs, your emergency veterinary costs, there’s also the cost of crates and drugs used to immobilise them. There’s a lot of costs involved.”
Following news of the missing lions, the Vice Chairman of Nigeria Union in the province, Mr. Trust Owoyele has warned Nigerians resident in the area to keep safe.
Speaking to the News Agency of Nigeria in Johannesburg, Owoyele disclosed that the body had received information about the missing lions. He said:
“We have a sizeable Nigerian population in the area. We advise that for now, they should stay away from farms, parks and bush because the predators could be hiding there.
“We also call on our people to be cautious of their movements in the night, especially in lonely areas because the lions have been sighted feeding on a cow in a farm.”
Owoyele stressed the importance for Nigerians in the area to adopt safety measures even though authorities were working hard to get the lions.
Secretary General of the union, Mr. Emeka Ezinteje said the national secretariat was aware of the development in the area and also urged Nigerians to be conscious and cautious of the missing lions in their movement.
“The union appeals to relevant authorities to assist in capturing the missing animals as quickly as possible,” Ezinteje said.
In July, four male lions escaped from the Kruger National Park in Mpumalanga Province. They were later spotted at a private farm near the park.