Autopsy proves Rietvlei lionesses were poisoned
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City of Tshwane spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said the carcasses of River and Serabi had been taken to Onderstepoort Veterinary Services for examination after they were discovered about two weeks ago.
“Police had found pieces of meat with white granules in the veld on October 10 after the lionesses died,” Mashigo said.
“The results confirmed that the granules were indeed poison.”
Lions tours were immediately suspended after the the City of Tshwane announced the death of the two popular lionesses.
River was initially discovered on the grounds around 1.30pm during a tour.
She had a bloodied nose.
The City said at the time that after River’s body was found, staff were prompted to move the remaining lions to a smaller enclosure for their protections.
It was realised that another tourist drawcard, Serabi, was missing. Serabi’s body was found later at 6pm.
Mashigo told Independent Media that “the tours are now taking place with the lions in the smaller enclosure.
“The visitors use the lion deck to view the lions.
“The larger enclosure remains closed and will be open once it is safe; after a good rainfall to wash away small particles of poison.”
The conservation and tourist attraction reserve has suffered a loss of wildlife in the past due to criminal activities.
In July, Ma Koei, a rhino believed to be 40 years old, was shot dead in what was suspected to be a poaching attempt.
Police were investigating another incident where another rhino was found limping after it was shot earlier that month.
Last year, the reserve closed tours to the public when two rhinos, one pregnant, were found killed by suspected poachers.
The reserve has been fighting poachers for some time. In 2013, five heavily armed men were arrested as they were about to enter the reserve illegally.
This was three years after two of the rhinos were poached.
Mashigo said: “Metro police and SAPS will increase visible policing. All cars entering and leaving the facility will be searched.
“Daily monitoring of the lions and regular clean-up of enclosure will be conducted.
“The city’s staff at Rietvlei Nature Reserve would like to discourage cruelty against wildlife and poaching.”