14 lions escape from South Africa’s Kruger park, alert issued to residents

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Barely a day after leopard managed to enter staff quarters of South Africa’s Kruger park and killed a boy, a group of 14 lions have escaped from the park, prompting warnings from local officials.

This is the largest lion escape in South Africa. In 2017 only four or five lions escaped in Mpumalanga and were spotted in Matsulu village.

Kruger park is largely fenced off, and it is unclear how the lions escaped from the park.

The lions were reportedly sighted near Phalaborwa Foskor mine, just west of Kruger National Park near the Mozambique border.

Rangers are monitoring the animals amid heightened fears among residents. Authorities are doing all they can to capture them and release them back into the reserve.

Limpopo province officials warned civilians to “be alert at all times”.

A spokesperson of the Park,  Ike Phahla said that simply capturing and returning the lions to the reserve may not work.  “They may escape again or be chased off by other lions, because lions are quite territorial”, he said

One of the suggestions is to relocate them to another provincial park – find them an area large enough for them to live in but that is yet to be decided.

After a lion called Sylvester escaped Karoo national park twice in 2016, he was given his own pride and encouraged to become an alpha male.

A Municipal worker Mahira Masakwameng who said he has lived in Phalaborwa his whole life, said he knows only of four lion attacks in the area since his childhood – the last was a hunter a few years ago. Masakwameng is 38 years old.

“People are afraid because unlike other animals we’ve seen roaming the streets from time to time over the years, we know lions attack when they come into contact with humans,” he said.

Masakwameng hopes the animals will be captured soon.

Kruger National Park, located in northeastern South Africa, is one of Africa’s largest game reserves. Its high density of wild animals includes lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants and buffalos. There are hundreds of other mammals that make the place their home. Other diverse bird species such as vultures, eagles and storks are found there. Mountains, bush plains and tropical forests are all part of the landscape. The park covers an area of 19,485 sq km (7,523 sq miles).

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