Pietermaritzburg – A lion that was on the run from Mkuze Falls game reserve, near Pongola, has been found after a two-week search.
The lion was discovered at Zululand Rhino Reserve, its old home about 70km from the game reserve, from where it had escaped through an open fence.
Temba Timothy Xulu, a member of the Nkunzana Community Trust and co-owner of the game reserve, said communities in the vicinity of the game reserve were relieved at the news after long sleepless nights.
The lion escaped from the reserve after a fence was cut during a land dispute.
Xulu said the lion was discovered at Zululand Rhino Reserve, from where it was bought about two months ago.
“We received a call from the former owner of the lion, informing us that it had come back to its former home, which is approximately 70km from our game reserve.
“After we learnt about the escape, we followed its footprints for approximately three kilometres before we lost track. We believe it got into thick bushes, and that was the last evidence we had,” he said.
Xulu said the 200 metres of damaged fence was repaired the day the incident took place as the reserve is home to 15 other lions, and the open fence would have been dangerous to people in the area.
“It was extremely terrifying knowing that people’s lives were in danger, thinking about children in the communities and the livestock.”
Xulu said they had reported the matter to Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife and the police, and warned people to be on high alert.
Arrangements were being made to return the lion to Mkuze Falls Reserve.
Interdict over damaged fence
An interim interdict has been secured against the five individuals accused of damaging the Mkuze Falls fence — Nqaba Ntshangase, Nkosinathi Mthinyane, Sebenzile Ntshangase, Simon Nkambule and Musa Duma — preventing them from inciting violence or harassing members of the Ntunzana Community Trust, which derives an income from Mkuze Falls.
They have until February 5 to show why the interdict should not be confirmed.
Mkuze Falls is a private game reserve on the opposite side of the N2 from the Mkuze Game Reserve, which is under the control of Isimangaliso Wetland Park Authority and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife.