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Namibia: Two Roaming Lions Relocated to Game Park
TWO of the three lions which were found roaming among the community near the Botswana border last week were captured and safely relocated to Buffalo Game Park in Kavango East.
The two male lions were found after an intense and costly search by the Harnas Wildlife Foundation.
The latest successful tracking of the roaming lions is welcome news after recent reports of the shooting of lions who escaped from national parks by community members, causing a national outcry. Founder and owner of the Harnas foundation Marieta van der Merwe said in a statement last Friday that they were informed on 17 June that three lions had entered the area in proximity to their farm in the Omaheke region.
Van der Merwe said after an extensive search and tracking, involving a large number of people, hours and vehicles, they located the lions two days later on 19 June.
"One of the lions, a male, was travelling in a south-westerly direction of the Omaheke region, while the other two lions were on a farm very close to the Botswana border," she explained.
There was a distance of about 220 kilometres between the one male and the other two males. Van der Merwe said her foundation decided, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism as well as the communities and farmers involved, to capture and relocate the animals at their own expense.
The two males were located, and with the help of the district's community members, the lions were contained in a smaller section of the farm. She said the foundation sent a helicopter with a registered veterinarian to dart the animals, and arranged for them to be brought in a transport lorry suitable to transport game to Harnas in order to chip the lions, and to do an extensive biological appraisal on each of the animals.
"The capture was a great success," she noted. The two lions, estimated to be three years old, were then transported to Harnas, awaiting a release permit from the ministry of environment.
"By close of the day, the ministry already provided us with the release permit and release site. The young males will be released into Buffalo Game Park that belongs to the 2007 proclaimed Bwabwata National Park, located at the eastern side of the Okavango in the Kavango region," she said.
The transport lorry drove out early on the morning of 22 June from Harnas to the release site, some 1 400km.
The lions were expected to arrive back into the park over the weekend. Van der Merwe said significant costs were incurred during the whole exercise of the transportation of the two cats, and requested assistance from the public. The spokesperson of the ministry of environment, Romeo Muyunda, could not be reached for comment yesterday.
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