File photo: Omar Sobhani

Cape Town - A young male lion that has escaped from the Karoo National Park near Beaufort West is still on the loose and has killed some of a local farmer’s sheep.

The lion got through a part of the park’s game fence where it had been undercut by water from a flash flood during rains last week, the park management believes.

It has been heading in a westerly direction towards Fraserburg, said park hospitality manager Brian van der Westhuizen on Wednesday.

Three trackers, including master tracker Karel “Pokkie” Benadie, have joined the search parties and were seeking signs of where the lion had passed by, Van der Westhuizen said.

Park Management was alerted when a farmer told them that he’d seen lion spoor on his land.

The Park’s San trackers were immediately deployed to follow the spoor and a helicopter that was in the park for a wildlife census at the time was also dispatched. A gemsbok carcass was put out in the hope of attracting the lion, but by dark on Friday the lion had not yet been located.

Neighbouring farmers have been asked to be on the lookout for the lion.

Relatives of a young farmer, whose property lies adjacent to the park near where the lion got out, reported on Facebook that eight of his ewes had been killed by the lion at the weekend.

Neither aerial nor foot patrols have so far had any results. While the trackers had picked up the lion’s spoor on a number of occasions, the terrain was mountainous, with many river valleys, thus making tracking difficult, Van der Westhuizen said.

“The lion is a three-year-old male,” he said.

“It is suspected he escaped through a hole under the fence line after damage caused by heavy rains last week. The lion then moved onto the parallel Fraserburg road to the west of the Park and entered private property through a storm water drain.”

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Cape Argus