One of the lions spotted near Phalaborwa. Picture: Suplied
Johannesburg - Field rangers are keeping a close eye on a pride of 14 lions that have been seen around a mining area outside Phalaborwa, Limpopo.

And while one set of rangers is watching the pride, another team is following the spoor to clear up the confusion of where the big cats had originated.

On Friday, the Kruger National Park (KNP) said it wasn’t one of its prides. “The widely reported pride of lions seen recently in the mining area outside Phalaborwa is not a known pride from the Kruger National Park or the adjacent private nature reserves,” general manager Marisa Coetzee said.

“It has been reported that this pride has been residing for more than a year within the Foskor, Phalaborwa Mining Company and direct adjacent areas, moving along the Selati river system. This area outside but adjacent to the KNP also contains elephant, buffalo and other wildlife.”

She said the pride might have established in this area, due to the current availability of prey in these areas, and due to a lack of competition from other lion prides. The lion population within the greater Kruger is very healthy, growing, and have occupied suitable habitats.

“It would, therefore, be unwise to relocate a lion pride in the territory of an existing pride. The disease status of animals is also a consideration when looking at possible release areas,” Coetzee said.

The Limpopo Economic Development, Environment and Tourism is now responsible for capturing the lions, and according to the spokesperson for the department, Zaid Kala, this is likely to happen over the weekend.

SANParks spokesman Ike Phaahla said there had been a meeting with the various parties over what to do with the lions.

“It was agreed that we would be on standby to assist if needs be.”

The plan is to dart the lions and move the pride to a suitable area outside of the Kruger Park and other private reserves. Shaun Smillie and ANA

But, in the meantime, rangers will continue to monitor the cats.

“So far, our rangers have said the lions appear to be pretty relaxed,” said Kala. 

Saturday Star