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SIX lions escape into SD

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By MDUDUZI MAGAGULA - SWAZI TIMES-20-Sep-2009

LOMAHASHA—There is panic in this community as a pack of six lions and two elephants escaped into the country from South Africa.

The animals are said to be originally from a game reserve located at Sikhukhuza in the Mpumalanga province of South Africa. The lions have since killed and eaten a cow in this community and a head boy who spotted them miraculously escaped their wrath.

Police have requested the nation to be on the lookout for these animals and they have further requested the nation to stay away from them because they have the potential of killing. According to Police Public relations officer Superintendent Vusi Masuku, a joint force of policemen from Lomahasha and conservation officers have thus far failed to arrest the lions and a search operation was called off yesterday evening.

Information

According to information that was availed to this newspaper, the lions were spotted late in the afternoon yesterday in an area called eBhandeni which is located around Nkalashane. The residents are said to have immediately called police who then convened a team of nature conservationists to hunt them. According to Masuku the environment where they were spotted in was scanned by the operation and a carcass was discovered by the team.

“The remains were checked by the conservationists and it was confirmed that the carcass belonged to a cow and further it was eaten by a group of lions,” he said. Masuku then warned residents from the surrounding areas to be on the lookout for these animals as they are dangerous and untamed. “People must refrain from walking in the night until we capture all the animals. They are all dangerous and people should stay away from them,” he said. Masuku said lions had a history of roaming around at night as they prefer darkness to make their movements and hunt. George Mbatha who is the chief Game Ranger at Hlane National park, also confirmed that lions had escaped into the kingdom. Mbatha told this newspaper that he was part of the search team that failed to locate the animals. “We went to the area where they were spotted and we could not find them because it was already late,” he said.

Instead of looking for the animals according to Mbatha the team went around the community telling people to stay indoors because there were lions moving about their community. Mbatha said the joint search team would resume its operation this morning and he prayed that the lions would not have done any damage by then.

Capture

“We are confident that we will capture them tomorrow as this is not the first case. In the past there was a lion that escaped from Sikhukhuza and escaped into Mozambique but eventually reached the country and was captured after it was spotted around Simunye,” he said.

He said the lion was captured after it entered the Hlane game reserve and he hoped that these lions would be captured at-least by tomorrow.


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