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Dublin: 21 °C Tuesday 23 July, 2019

14 lions on the loose in South Africa after escape from national park

The lions were spotted near Kruger National Park.

Image: Shutterstock/Chris de Billot

A PRIDE OF 14 lions is on the loose near a mining community bordering a national park in South Africa. 

The lions have been spotted roaming around a phosphate mine outside the town of Phalaborwa on the western edge of Kruger National Park. 

Officials in South Africa are warning members of the public to be alert. The local government has said it suspects that the big cats escaped from the park and has allocated rangers to monitor the pride while officials decide where to send them.

“Employees at Foskor Mine and members of the public are hereby advised to be alert at all times,” the provincial department of environment and tourism said in a statement.

It said a meeting of government and park officials had concluded that the lions must be captured and released into the Kruger National Park.

However, park spokesperson Ike Phaahla said this was not feasible, as the new arrivals “will continually break out as other dominant lions will chase them out”.

He added that any animal outside the park “is the responsibility of the provincial authority”.

Until the matter is settled, Phaahla warned “there is a danger to members of the public who are working in the area”.

“There is the possibility of wildlife-human conflict, so people have to be careful,” he told SABC public television. “We need to identify a park where they can be taken and establish their own area.”

It’s unclear how long the lions have been on the loose. The Kruger park covers nearly two million hectares (4.9 million acres) and is home to over 500 bird species and 147 mammal species.

Earlier this week, a leopard killed a two-year-old boy inside a fenced-off staff compound in the Kruger park. A team of rangers hunted down and killed two suspected leopards in response. 

© AFP 2019.

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