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UPDATE: Three Kruger Park lions who escaped shot dead

SANParks says they had no choice but to euthanise the lions because the terrain made any chance of recapture nearly impossible.

FILE: A lion and lioness. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG – Three of the four lions that escaped from the Kruger National Park over the weekend have been shot dead.

It's understood two of the lions were shot by a farmer on Wednesday night; one died while the other was wounded.

SANParks says they had no choice but to euthanise the third lion along with its wounded companion
because the terrain made any chance of recapture nearly impossible.

Spokesperson William Mabasa said, “They had to euthanise them because it was not conducive for them to capture them and bring them back. All three escaped lions have been put down and the search has come to an end.”

Initially, it was reported that four lions had escaped over the weekend, however, rangers say the tracks of only three big cats have been found.

SANParks says if evidence suggesting there is a fourth escaped lion surface, they will resume the search.

SANParks’ Janine Raftopoulos said, “Based on what the rangers have given us, the tracks indicate that there were only three lions and not four. For now, the situation is contained and should there be a sighting of a fourth lion and if indeed there was a fourth lion, we will be ready to dispatch a team again.”

Earlier there were reports that the lions were roaring on a farm situated between Barberton and Matsulu in Mpumalanga, the South Africa National Parks (SANParks) said on Thursday.

Mabasa said they had sent a helicopter to investigate those reports.

On Tuesday, SANParks said the lions were probably driven out by population pressures.

Meanwhile, a strike is looming at all of the county's national parks over salaries following a stalemate in negotiations at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).

Staff affiliated to the Health & other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) are demanding a 9% increase for 2018, while SanParks is offering 6%.

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