Fourteen lions which escaped from the Kruger National Park have
been spotted in the vicinity of the Phalaborwa Foskor Mine in Limpopo.
News of the roaming lions has spread panic amongst Phalaborwa residents who have been advised to exercise extreme caution. According to a report by SABC News, the Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET) has confirmed sightings of the pride just south of Phalaborwa near the rural mining district.
Lions near Phalaborwa Foskor Mine “not new”
Conservationists and rangers, who are actively tracking the
escapees, are especially concerned about the safety of mineworkers. Foskor,
which is situated roughly five kilometres south of the town, has been
identified as the immediate danger zone. Mine management has been in talks with
rangers and the Department to plot a safety plan of action, should the lions
threaten the lives of workers.
SANParks, which is also aiding the tracking and recapture
effort, noted that the escape was not a recent occurrence and that the lions
have previously been spotted outside of the Kruger National Park’s perimeters. SANParks
spokesperson, Ike Phaala, added that the fundamental responsibility for
recapture rested with the Department. Phaala said:
“Any animal that is outside of the Kruger National Park is the responsibility of the provincial authority. LEDET wanted to take the animals back into the Kruger but we said that animals are very territorial – there’s going to be a lot of conflict – they will continue to break out of the park. So, we need a permanent solution.”
Safety measures in place
While residents and mine staff have been told to be
vigilant, Phaala argues that there is no immediate danger as the lions are in a
‘contained area’. Phaala added that the pride is under constant surveillance which
would effectively mitigate any surprise attack.
SANParks, together with LEDET, are confident that a relocation resolution will be reached later today.