Daily News

Cold snaps up fugitive lion


SYLVESTER, the Karoo lion who has been on the loose for 24 days, has been safely darted and returned to his home, the Karoo National Park near Beaufort West.

Today environmen­talist Gareth Patterson, author of My Lion’s Heart, thanked farmers for their patience and co-operation.

“So glad the lion is safe! Well done all concerned,” he said.

The lion was darted late yesterday on Eltrus Mocke’s farm, Palmietfon­tein, by a veterinari­an, after SANParks rangers and trackers determined that the animal was keeping to a specific area on the Sutherland side of the park, spokesman Rey Thakhuli confirmed today.

The cold weather was his downfall after he was spotted from the air sunning himself on a rock in the Nuweveld Mountains, 20km from the park boundary.

The Facebook page, Karoo, posted an update that said the big cat was darted from a helicopter yesterday. The lion escaped by crawling under a fence. During his time on the run, he killed 26 sheep.

Thakhuli said profession­al trackers, including teams from Botswana and the Addo Elephant Park, had been involved in the search.

The search was led by Karel “Pokkie” Benadie, one of only a handful of master trackers in southern Africa and who is an expert in the Karoo terrain.

But since June 5, the animal has led them all on a merry dance.

Leon Müller, from the Northern Cape’s Department of Environmen­t, said on Facebook that he had heard from Nico van der Walt, the Karoo National Park’s manager, that Sylvester was home “with a (tracking) collar on”.

“He was brought out of the mountains in a sling under a helicopter. He then had his satellite tracking collar fitted and was returned to a boma in the park,” Müller said.

While Karoo farmers expressed their relief on social media, many others were disappoint­ed that Sylvester had been outwitted.

“Ag no man, the sports are over! When are you going to give him a pass-out again,” said Facebooker Elias Brundyn.

Ilse Koorts wrote: “Now the other male lions are really going to be jealous when they hear Sylvester’s lekker stories and will want to kick him out again.”

Heidi Duncan posted: “I can imagine the whole Awol saga of Sylvester didn’t come cheap, but I don’t mind our tax money going to causes like this!”

According to reports, farmers in the area around the Karoo National Park fear that stock theft will resume now that Sylvester has been captured.

However most residents were thankful that the lion had been captured alive without threatenin­g the lives of residents on farms.


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