File photo: Rajanish Kakade

Mossel Bay - Lions are on the loose after they escaped from the Gondwana Game Reserve outside the coastal town of Mossel Bay on Wednesday.

CapeNature spokesman Justin Lawrence said the reserve had been in contact after the animals disappeared.

“As part of their management plan they must report anything like this directly to us,” said Lawrence.

At the time of publication, CapeNature did not know exactly how many animals had escaped the reserve. The Cape Argus had been in contact with Gondwana, who were unable to respond on Thursday morning.

In 2012, the reserve made headlines after their pride of lions had their first litter of cubs. By now the cubs would be almost fully grown.

The private reserve has embarked on an ambitious conservation project to restore and rehabilitate the 11 000-hectare reserve with indigenous game.

The first lion – a large male – was introduced from the Kalahari in 2008.

It is believed that lions that historically occurred in the Southern Cape were similar to the black-maned lions of the Kalahari Desert.

The reserve was working on tracking the lions down, said Lawrence. They were not a danger to residents as the reserve was surrounded by farms.

Rangers on the reserve are no strangers to tracking down runaway wildlife. Two years ago rangers were on standby after a hippo wandered from Cape Town’s Rondevlei to Zeekoevlei. The plan was to capture the young animal and take it to the reserve as it had been chased from its habitat in the wetland by an adult hippo.

The lions share the reserve with black wildebeest, eland and zebra.

“The reproduction and survival of all species here is vital and reassuring. This indicates game has settled in well, and conditions are favourable for the species’ perpetual existence,” the reserve said in another statement.

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Cape Argus