United star Rio Ferdinands tweet about hunting with his 'Zulu friend' caused a stir. Photo: Rio Ferdinand/ Twitter

Manchester United star Rio Ferdinand is once again stoking controversy, saying he hunted and killed a lion and a wildebeest on safari in KwaZulu-Natal on Thursday.

“Me + my Zulu friend out in the bush just before we hunted and killed a Lion + a Wilder beast!!” read his tweet, accompanied by a picture of him and an unnamed man in traditional Zulu garb.

The remark was a joke – the reserve Ferdinand and the team toured has no lions or wildebeest – but in a country where poaching and legal hunting are the subjects of heated debate, his tweet did not go down well.

“Why did Rio Ferdinand have to kill a Lion while here in SA???? He could have spent the money on CONSERVATION!!!” tweeted Kfm DJ Ryan O’Connor.

@Jonathan_Witt tweeted: “@rioferdy5 can barely defend himself from an attacking striker, doubtful he would be able to shoot a lion”.

Ferdinand recently shared a Tweet referring to Chelsea’s Ashley Cole as a “choc ice” for supporting John Terry in his racism

trial. UK police are investigating the original Tweet after complaints of racism.

At 10.30 on Friday Ferdinand tweeted: “had an amazing time in Durban – safari was unbelievable and for those concerned I didn’t hunt any lions… can some of u please lighten up!”

Cape Argus