If you woke up to the news of the escape of five lions from Kruger National Park and thought you were dreaming, you weren’t. According to SANParks, the lions were first spotted on the N4/Mananga Road crossing in Komatipoort on Monday, 8 May.
At the time of writing (and to the relief of many), it was later reported that three of the elusive lions were seen on a sugar cane farm, and have been successfully darted.
SANParks spokesperson, Rey Thakhuli clarified that this has not been their operation and that they are simply providing support to the MTPA (Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency) who are leading it. SAPS have also been in assistance.
Twitter updates indicated that a helicopter was being used to continue the search and Thakhuli confirmed that it was to dart the lions. He also said there is a ground team supporting the vet in the helicopter and that investigations into how the lions escaped was underway.
It is unclear how the lions skipped the fence, but according to the SANParks’ Twitter account, the 5 sub adult male lions may have been chased away by a dominant pride.
‘If we are not successful in capturing the lions during the day, we will work during the night to ensure that no one is hurt,’ said Thakhuli.
South African Twitter has taken to commenting on the situation under #LionsEscape and while it has been helpful in keeping track of the story, you are in for a lot of laughter. Here is what a couple had to say:
SANParks emphasise the call made by the police for residents and motorists to be aware and report further sightings of the lions. Authorities can be reached on 080010111, 0768019679 or 0137350197. You can also follow @SANParks and @TheMikeAppel for current information.
Updates to follow.