Pretoria - An extensive search operation is underway to track and capture a lion which has been spotted by different people around the R511 road, near the popular Hennops Hiking Trail and areas bordering Gauteng and North West.
Arthur Crewe, on behalf of Strategic Response and Rescue Unit (SRU), said the lion remains on the loose, and there has not been confirmation of from where it escaped.
“What happened is that at 2 o’clock yesterday morning, a security officer that was patrolling the area had spotted the lion on the 511 in the Hennops area. He (security officer) posted on the local group for everybody to be cautious,” Crewe told IOL.
“At around 7am yesterday, I dispatched our search and rescue team to try and locate the lion and to bring it back safely. We had not known where she has come from. People in the area would really be keen on shooting the animal, so we dispatched our search and rescue teams.
“A second gentleman said he had seen the same lion. With that in mind, we had two sightings of the same animal, and we have been on the search ever since. At around 2.30pm yesterday, we received another sighting in the same area, and that is where most of our attention has been focused, and we believe she is still in that area at the moment,” said Crewe.
He said some people have claimed to have sighted the animal overnight, but there is no new information on the big cat.
Crewe said the sightings have been near the Hartbeespoort area “on the border of Gauteng and North West close to the Hennops Hiking Trail”.
He said facilities in North West have indicated that they are not missing a lion, and the search is also on to establish from where the feline escaped.
“It is only Gauteng at the moment. There is apparently a lot of facilities that have these animals with permits. Authorities are visiting those facilities to see if anybody is missing their animal,” said Crewe.
He said it had been alleged that the lion had killed a donkey, but it has been verified that the donkey was killed in an accident - not by the big cat.
In January, a tigress named Sheba was fatally shot after it had been on the loose for days in Walkerville, south of Joburg.
Gresham Mandy, from the Walkerville CPF who has been on the front line of the massive search aimed at capturing the big cat, confirmed the sad development to IOL.
He said the feline was killed after it had entered a farm with six dwellings of families living there. It attacked and killed a domestic animal.