South Africa

DA questions 'drastic' shooting of escaped lions near Beaufort West

DA questions 'drastic' shooting of escaped lions near Beaufort West

The DA has questioned the “drastic step” taken to shoot seven lions after they escaped from the Karoo National Park near Beaufort West.

The lions were shot dead from a helicopter on Tuesday after escaping twice within 24 hours.

SANParks' Rey Thakhuli said the first escape was reported in the early hours of Monday morning when three lions from the pride of seven escaped from the park's northern boundary, along the Nuweveld Mountain range onto private property.

The lions killed 10 sheep on the neighbouring farm.

Thakhuli said rangers managed to chase the animals back to the park and slept on the mountain in case the lions returned to the carcasses, which they did during the night.

He said in an attempt to deter human-predator conflict and conservation, a decision was taken to put the entire pride down.

DA MP Daylin Mitchell said they believed the shooting of the lions was “excessive culling of a pride”.

“Though we accept the risks and dangers neighbouring areas may face in such circumstances, we want to know whether all alternative options were considered before this drastic step was taken.

“Serious questions need to be answered. For example, why was the border fence not properly fixed after the first escape; and did the second escape take place at the same place? We would also like to know if the fence is now properly fixed.”

Mitchell said they would do an oversight inspection at the park in the coming days.

“SA is known for its rich and unique wildlife and all of us have the responsibility to preserve this national treasure at all costs.”

TimesLIVE