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Published on : Thursday, July 2, 2015
A three-year-old lion which escaped from the Karoo National Park outside Beaufort West, about 460 kilometres northeast of Cape Town, has been successfully recaptured following an extended three-week operation in mountainous terrain and through a number of river valleys.
The lion was located by spotters on Monday above steep cliffs in the Nuweveld Mountains, at 5,800 ft (1,768 metres) above sea level. He was shot with a dart by a South African National Parks (SANParks) veterinary officer from a helicopter and brought to safety under extremely difficult conditions.
Nico van der Walt, the Park Manager of the Karoo National Park, said Tuesday that the lion had to be loaded onto a sling underneath the helicopter while lying immobilised on the mountain side. “This was the most dangerous part of the operation as the helicopter blades were not more than two metres from the mountain edge with the lion lying three metres from a high cliff.”
It is suspected the young male was chased away by older lions and escaped from the park on June 5, 2015 through a spot in the fence which had been damaged following heavy rain.
The lion has now been released into a boma (enclosure) and has been fitted with a tracking collar. “We are happy to report that it is in good health and it would be put under observation for the time being,” said van der Walt.
SANParks Chief Executive Officer Fundisile Mketeni congratulated the team for their professionalism in tracking and recapturing the lion.