Durban - uMlalazi's Municipality mayor Queen Xulu has called on Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife to expedite the search for two lions that were spotted roaming around eMphendle.
This comes after the search for the two lions on Sunday was unsuccessful. The lions were spotted along the P710 route at about 10am.
In a statement on Sunday, the mayor requested a multi-sectoral approach in the search for the predators.
She said as more time goes by, the level of fear and panic within the community is growing, especially since the school holiday is coming to an end in the next few days.
“We applaud the swift intervention by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife in treating this as a matter of urgency. However, we are of a firm view that the efforts of the search should be multiplied and be escalated to relevant authorities and specialists with necessary expertise to capture these lions,” said the mayor.
Xulu said their biggest worry was that these lions were spotted by residential areas along the uMbohlisa River.
“These wild animals are dangerous and highly aggressive in their nature. We call upon our communities to exercise caution, travel in groups and watch over children,” she said.
The mayor also called on those who keep their livestock in the bushes to collect them before they are eaten by the lions.
Ezemvelo spokesperson Musa Mntambo said after three families had seen the male and female lions in the Nembe area, field rangers were immediately deployed to the location to confirm their presence, track and catch them.
“Unfortunately, Ezemvelo did not see any lion spoor in the area. However, it is important to note that the Nembe area has a hard surface, making it difficult to detect any spoors. So far, Ezemvelo cannot confirm or deny the presence of lions,” he said.
Mntambo said Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park (HiP) game reserve with lions is more than 100km away.
He said that in recent times, Ezemvelo has not received any reports of livestock killed by lions.
“It would be a rare occasion that the lions might have walked for more than 100km without killing any livestock,” he said.
Ezemvelo ecologist Dr Dave Druce said Hluhluwe to Mlalazi is an extremely long way, and it has a lot of developed areas.
“When lions have left the iMfolozi section of the park in the past, they have always followed the river, either the White Mfolozi towards oPhathe or the Black Mfolozi up towards Babanango/Vryheid. I highly doubt that the animals seen were lions and doubt even more that, if there were, they would have come from HiP,” said Druce.
However, Mntambo said Ezemvelo has recently witnessed strange incidents in other provinces of people keeping dangerous wild animals as pets.
He said there have also been wild animals that escaped while in transit.
“Ezemvelo cannot ignore such reports and must investigate any reports of dangerous wild animal sightings,” said Mntambo.
Ezemvelo appealed to community members to inform the nearest police station if they hear any lions roaring or see the two reported lions.
He said members of the community should also notify Ezemvelo if they find any animal carcasses, as that will allow Ezemvelo to determine if that dead animal was killed by a lion or other wild animals living outside of protected areas.
“Ezemvelo has the best Game Capture Unit and highly experienced field rangers who are today (Monday) on standby waiting for any update on these lions,” said Mntambo.