Sylvester shortly after leaving the enclosure onto the larger 15 000ha Kuzuko property, with the younger male following a short distance behind. Picture:SANParks
Port Elizabeth – South Africa's most famous lion, Sylvester, is finally free.

Sylvester and another male were released on Saturday afternoon. A carcass was placed about 50m from a corner in the fence, the fence was cut and Sylvester was out first.

He headed straight to the carcass and started feeding, followed shortly thereafter by the younger male. Sylvester first escaped from the Karoo National Park in June last year, and managed to evade capture for over three weeks.

After his capture he was fitted with a combination satellite/VHF collar to find his location should he manage to get out again.

During March last year, the collar then alerted authorities that the lion had once again left the park’s boundary and he was tracked and returned to the park three days later.

During May last year, Sylvester the Karoo lion finally moved to Kuzuko. South African National Parks (SANparks) issued a statement on Tuesday, and said that it only took Sylvester minutes to move out of a smaller enclosure he had been in since November to a larger Kuzuko contractual area of the park consisting of 15 000 hectares.

“On their first night out they caught a kudu and the very next morning a red hartebeest, confirmation that they can successfully fend for themselves in the wild,” said Addo Elephant National Park Conservation Manager, John Adendorff.

“Sylvester is already showing signs of being the pride leader, on Sunday night, chasing the females off their kill,” continued Adendorff.

Sylvester, too, has proven that he hasn’t forgotten how to hunt, having caught an adult black wildebeest on Monday morning.

“Now that it appears he finally has a place where he belongs, without threat, and the fact that he has bonded so closely with the younger male, we are confident that Sylvester will have no need to ever stray again. His satellite tracking collar location is monitored regularly and easily provides us with an accurate assessment of where the two are,” Adendorff said.

In addition two lionesses were released on Friday afternoon when a SANParks vet darted them and fitted one with a tracking collar.

As they are never far apart, one collar will provide the location of both at any given time.