LOOK: Escaped Karoo lion headed back home after weeks on the loose

Johannesburg – The hunt for the escaped Karoo National Park lion has finally ended after the lion was successfully darted in the vicinity of the Northern Cape town of Sutherland, South African National Parks (SANParks) said on Thursday.

The animal that escaped from the boundaries of the Karoo National Park in mid-February, was darted in an area around 120 kilometres from the park on Wednesday at 6 pm.

"He looks very healthy and is currently isn transit back to the Karoo National Park," said park manager Nico van der Walt.

He said this has been one of the most taxing experiences for the team involved in the recapturing operation, "but their dedication day and night, sleeping out in the veld, sometimes in the rain with wind is to be commended".

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The SANParks team that has been tracking the lion. PHOTO: Supplied

SANParks chief  executive officer, Fundisile Mketeni, said SANParks understands the conditions the tracking team were working under in an effort to recapture the escaped lion, describing it as very difficult.

"On behalf of all SANParks staff I wish to extend our gratitude for their hard work and efforts put into the recapture of this animal," Mketeni said.

Picture3 TheproudSANParksteamthathasbeentrackingtheescapedlionforalmostamonth. - LOOK: Escaped Karoo lion headed back home after weeks on the loose
The SANParks team that has been tracking the lion. PHOTO: Supplied

Mketeni also thanked the farming community in the Northern and Western Cape for their assistance in supplying information on identified tracks and said the support received from the Pretoria based Bidvest Protea Coin security during the search was highly appreciated.

Picture1 AsedatedyounglionthatescapedfromtheKarooNationalParkoveramonthagokeptinaholdingcellattheSoutherlandPolicecell. - LOOK: Escaped Karoo lion headed back home after weeks on the loose
The sedated young lion that escaped from the Karoo National Park over a month ago, was kept in a holding cell before being transported back to the park. PHOTO: Supplied

"Everyone who assisted without being requested to do so has shown appreciation for South Africa’s natural heritage and for this we commend them," Mketeni said.

According to Van der Walt, trackers picked up a new track on Wednesday afternoon and followed it until the lion stormed out of the bush. 

"A SANParks helicopter was dispatched and the animal was successfully darted in the mountains. Thankfully Sutherland SAPS provided a holding cell for the lion until the arrival of a crate from the Addo Elephant National Park this morning," Van der Walt said.

African News Agency (ANA)

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