Claws out over big cat's ordeal

07 January 2016 - 02:06 By Shenaaz Jamal and The Telegraph

Kruger National Park rangers alerted by tourists sedated an injured lion with a dart gun on Tuesday so that they could remove a poacher's snare from around its neck. The lion was treated by a vet and released.Pictures shot by tourists showing the injured young male in obvious distress and pain were uploaded to Facebook.Holiday-maker Meliska Viljoen wrote she saw the lion "in the road clearly asking for help".Some Facebook users have claimed that park officials were slow in reacting to the lion's plight .One said: "I would like to see what SANPark's reply on this is ... if they are going to reply at all. They are just getting money from visitors and donors but do not care about the animals."Carl Strydom commented on Facebook: "This is a clear sign that the border fences are not being inspected or that staff from the park are doing the opposite of what they are supposed to."Questions were raised about whether the lion should have been given more veterinary care before being released.SANParks said the animals' wounds were not as serious as first thought.Lion specialist Kevin Richardson commended the park for its efforts to save the lion and said the traumatised beast was "more then capable" of surviving in the wild after the ordeal."Lions and other predators have incredible powers of recovery in the wild. There is no doubt that the lion will be able to hunt and survive," said Richardson.Wildlife experts believe that the poverty of the people living close to the parks is the cause of poaching."National wildlife reserves are surrounded by impoverished areas. These poachers want to feed their families and end up injuring and killing bigger game," said the CEO of Captured in Africa, Drew Abrahamson."Education is important. If you look at the situation from both sides you are able to see why some of these bush-meat poachers, who are sometimes poor, resort to these measures to make money," said Richardson.

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