Lion loose in Gauteng for the past 6 weeks, wildlife organisation says

Johannesburg – Wildlife experts said on Thursday evening they aim to capture within the next 24 hours an adult male lion that has been on the loose in the Fochville area, Gauteng, for the past six weeks.

Pit-track K9 conservation and anti-poaching unit founder Carl Thornton told News24 that they were alerted to the lion’s presence at the beginning of August when someone allegedly drove into it.

Together with Drew Abrahamson from the Captured in Africa Foundation, they have been working to save the lion’s life.

“Lion footprints were positively identified at the scene of the accident and a nearby killing of a cow calf was also identified.”

The lion was again identified when a farmer spotted it on his CCTV cameras at night, Thornton said.

Following that, footprints and killings were once again spotted in the vicinity of the area where the lion was identified on CCTV cameras.

“We now believe that we know the area the lion is located and believe we will be able to capture him.”

Teams from Captured in Africa Foundation and Pit-track K9 will drag a piece of meat over a large area on Friday to create a trail to lead the lion to a specific area, Thornton said.

VIDEO: CCTV spots a missing lion in Fochville, Gauteng, 3 weeks ago. The lion has been missing for the past 6 weeks. ?? @News24— James de Villiers (@pejames) September 7, 2017

Once there, a piece of beaten meat with a sedative in it will be waiting for him. After the lion has eaten the meat, he will be darted and taken to the Pretoria Zoo.

“The reason why we sedate him with the meat first is because we are afraid he will run away when we dart him and we might lose his location once again. When he’s sedated, he will be disorientated and hence not be able to run far.”

The lion will most likely be captured during the night when he is most active.

Arrangements have been made with the Pretoria Zoo to temporarily house the lion before a more suitable facility is found.

Thornton said the lion was likely kept as an illegal pet and was therefore not reported missing.

“No major big five game farm in the area, or any breeding farm, so our running theory is that he was kept as a pet.

“It is highly unlikely that it is a wild lion.”

He said the teams will do their best to save the lion.

“Usually in these circumstances, authorities would issue a hunting permit for the lion and the lion would be killed. But we believe the lion shouldn’t pay for escaping from illegal captivity. We want to try our very best to save the lion’s life.”

Thornton said his organisation plans to set up a foundation to fund future lion rescues in the country. DM


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