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WATCH | Ezemvelo cannot confirm how many lions escaped

By Londiwe Xulu

Residents fear that escaped wild animals may attack their children.

Residents fear for their safety as more sightings of escaped lions are reported in the area.

KwaZulu-Natal Ezemvelo Wildlife said it is doing its best to catch the lions that have escaped from the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park. Ezemvelo spokesperson Musa Mntambo said they cannot confirm if there is more than one lion on the loose.

He said on Wednesday that one lion was spotted outside Ulundi, on the P700 highway. He added later that residents reported seeing a lion in other areas close to the highway.

On Thursday, it was reported that a lion was spotted near Nhlungwane High School, in Ulundi.

Because the reports we have been receiving are in areas close to each other, this makes us suspect there might be more than one, but we are not sure and we haven’t found any of these lions

He said they’ve heard of reports of lions eating cattle but haven’t heard of anyone being chased by the lions.

On Thursday, community representative Msizi Myaka said they suspect another lion has escaped and parents are scared it will attack their children, as it was seen near a school.

In a voice message he sent to The Witness, a woman can be heard in the background saying: “It [the lion] will eat our children.”

“We called Ezemvelo immediately after this lion was spotted, but we haven’t seen a helicopter searching for it. They usually take their time and later say they can’t locate the lion, which is a huge problem for us,” said Myaka.

Ezemvelo struggling to locate lions

Mntambo said they’ve been struggling to locate the lions, but are doing their best. He said they laid a food trap but none of the lions went to eat it.

There’s a lot that Ezemvelo is doing to locate these lions. The community can also assist by informing izinduna as soon as they spot the animals. We have started fixing the fence, but there are community members who also set us back by cutting the fence

KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC Siboniso Duma visited the communities of Okhukho and Nqulwini in northern KZN this week. He conducted an inspection of the perimeter fence of the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park and engaged with the community members.

Duma said 230 people have been employed from Okhukho in Ulundi, to help re-fence the game reserve.