After a week of suspense and days of hard work by rangers, the three escaped Kruger lions have all been shot, bringing an end to the latest wildlife escape saga.
According to SANParks and the Mpumalanga Tourism Parks Agency, officials received reports on Thursday that a farmer in the Mara Valley had already killed one lion and wounded another after the predators had killed a cow on the property.
Using a helicopter, rangers located the remaining two lions nearby. Under strenuous conditions and facing “extremely challenging terrain”, however, they were unable to dart the lions and instead were forced to kill them.
“We have a dedicated and experienced team on site that has been working tirelessly to locate and capture these lions,” says Abe Sibiya, Head of Biodiversity at the MTPA. “Unfortunately, after all efforts were made and the risk of having a wounded lion roaming around, a decision had to be taken to destroy them.”
Naturally, there has been an outcry on social media over the death of the big cats:
These three killed lions remind me of Harambe who was also killed due to human error, how long will these animals be killed #lionsescape— Success (@my_success21) July 13, 2017
The MPTA, however, has told Eyewitness News that the farmer was well within his rights, while a decision was made by officials to euthanise the injured lion.
The third, while not injured, was still considered a threat by officials. Following days of unsuccessful attempts at luring the lions to strategic positions, the decision had to be made.
Meanwhile, one of four lions that escaped from the Kruger National Park back in May remains unaccounted for.