Thursday, August 27, 2009

Zimbabwe: Lion escapes from cage

The Herald
Published by the government of Zimbabwe

George Maponga
27 August 2009


Harare — A lion escaped from its cage at Kyle Recreational Park near Lake Mutirikwi in Masvingo, causing apprehension among villagers in the adjacent Chikwanda communal lands that the beast might prey on them and their livestock.

Initially, four lions escaped from their cages at Simply Wild a lion breeding reserve but Parks and Wildlife Management Authority rangers recaptured three. The Parks authority has since dispatched a team of specialist rangers led by a Kwekwe-based professional hunter to track down the remaining lion.

There have been no reports of human deaths or loss of livestock since the four lions escaped over the weekend. The runaway lions were part of the 59 that were abandoned by conservancy operator Mr Ronnie Sparrow, who reportedly went to South Africa two months ago.

The Parks authority has been looking after the lions since then. Parks public relations manager Ms Caroline Washaya-Moyo yesterday said efforts were underway to capture the outstanding lion.

"Four lions escaped from their cages recently but we have so far managed to recapture three of the lions while the last one is still on the run. "We will recapture it soon. There have not been any reports of loss of human life in the adjacent communal lands or any loss of livestock.

"We have also since alerted communities who live around the park to be on the lookout for the lion and immediately make a report to our officers if they spot it. "But more importantly, we have a team of about six proficient rangers led by a professional hunter who are tracking the remaining lion," she said.

The trackers have been authorised to shoot the lion if the situation requires such a response. Ms Washaya-Moyo attributed the escape to vandalism of solar panels that used to provide power to the perimeter electric fence at the breeding cages.

She added that the Parks authority had started repairing the perimeter fence in addition to replacing stolen and vandalised solar panels.


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