Hunters are in pursuit of two lions that were spotted in the vicinity of Hennie’s Garage in Gluckstad just outside Vryheid on Thursday morning, reports Vryheid Herald. The big cats were seen crossing the road at about 5 am by a truck driver. Their presence has been condemned by community members.
Zululand Cluster SAPS communications officer Captain Nkosie Gwala said the lions were seen crossing the road at about 5 am by a truck driver, who immediately reported the sighting to the Vryheid SAPS to warn the public to be cautious.
“The matter is being dealt with by professional hunters with the correct permits,” said Capt Gwala. “Members of the community should please contact the SAPS on 034 989 5506 if they see the lions.”
Mundus van Niekerk of the Gluckstad farming community is among those who are searching for the lions. At about 9.30am, Van Niekerk informed the Vryheid Herald that the hunters had come across spoor that looked like that of a lion, and they were hopeful of finding the lions soon.
A Gluckstad farmer who asked not to be named said the lions may have escaped from a nearby game reserve and have been wandering in the area for nearly two months.
In response to the lion sighting, community members began protesting in the area. They have since blocked the R618 to Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park’s (HiP) Nyalazi Gate. It is reported that the protesters have since gained entry into the park, reports Zululand Observer.
Initial reasons given for the planned protest were that community members were fed up with predators leaving the park owing to the damaged fences. It was said that the animals pose a danger to community members’ livestock.
However, there is also speculation that the protesters are in support of mining in the area, which provides jobs.
The protest is reportedly also related to the appointment of environmental monitors by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife who are not from the area.
Visitors to HiP were yesterday advised to use the Memorial Gate entrance on Thursday morning as the protest was planned to affect only the R618 to the Nyalazi Gate entrance. However, early on Thursday morning, Memorial Gate was also closed as the protesters blocked that road.
Source: The Citizen