Sylvester the lion might get a new home

01 July 2015 - 09:35 By SHAUN SMILLIE

A decision is yet to be made about Sylvester the lion's future after he was returned to the Karoo National Park, following a dramatic recapture in the nearby Nuweveld mountains. The three-year-old lion is now under observation in a boma in the park."Specialists will decide what the best option is for the lion," said Nico van der Walt, manager of the Karoo National Park."There is a possibility that he might be relocated," he said.Sylvester is believed to have been pushed out of his pride by another male or males and escaped from the park through a hole in a fence.Yesterday he was doing well, said Van der Walt. He had no injuries, but was stressed.The lion's 24 days on the run ended on Monday afternoon when trackers spotted him high on the Nuweveld mountains on the farm Palmietfontein."By this time he had become very tired, he hadn't eaten in four days and on Saturday the dogs had chased him into the mountains," Van der Walt said.The trackers spotted the lion, who ran off but settled down again a short distance away. The team then called in a helicopter.From the air, the animal was spotted hiding on top of some high cliffs."The helicopter got within 30m of the lion and the vet was able to dart him," Van der Walt said.There were fears that the tranquilised creature might roll off a cliff edge, but a bush was there to prevent that from happening.Then came the difficult part. As Sylvester was some way from the rescue vehicles, a decision was made to airlift the cat in a sling beneath the chopper. The aircraft had to come so close to the mountain that its rotor blades spun just two metres from the cliff's face.Sylvester was conveyed to the vehicles, then rushed back to the Karoo National Park.After the three-week hunt, Van der Walt has no hard feelings towards a creature that led him and his team on a trek of 300km."Over that time I developed a respect for him, for what he had gone through," he said.

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