Missing Karoo lion takes trackers, rangers as far as the Northern Cape

The search for the male lion that escaped from the Karoo National Park in Beaufort West has taken rangers and trackers as far as Sutherland in the Northern Cape.

Search and tracker teams have been trying to locate the animal in difficult terrain for weeks since it escaped on February 15.

On Monday, SANParks said “the last confirmed spoor of the missing lion was followed by rangers and trackers [on Sunday] to about 42km north of the town of Sutherland in the Northern Cape”.

The town is about 200km from Beaufort West.

The Bidvest Protea Coin team, which joined up with the search party on Friday to offer assistance, put their infrared technology to work at night in an attempt to get closer to the animal. But they have not had any luck over the past three nights.

Later, the search stepped up a gear when Bidvest Protea Coin announced that it was deploying a helicopter, which is suitable for tracking. 

“We have one of only two choppers in the country fitted with forward-looking infrared (FLIR), or thermal imaging infrared cameras, which allows us to pick up heat signatures on the ground over a radius of 10km when flying at night,” said company chief operations officer Waal de Waal.

The Bidvest team also included a tracker who joined the team on the ground.

Reynold “Rey T” Thakhuli, SANParks general manager for media, PR and stakeholder relations previously told News24 that the plan was to capture rather than kill the lion, despite the risk it posed to the tracking team.

“We are going dart it. They (the team) have the necessary equipment. If it’s too deep in the difficult terrain, we’ll close it up and call the helicopter which is on standby.”


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