Lion paws found in bag after apparent poaching incident
Four animal paws - believed to have been severed from one of five lions killed at the Akwaaba Predator Park in Rustenburg last week - have been found dumped near a veld‚ North West police confirmed on Thursday.
"These have been taken for forensic testing to verify if they are the same ones which were taken from that lion‚" said Sergeant Ofentse Mokgadi.
"These were found three or four farms away from where the lions were killed. They were found by a farmer who was on a jog in the area and he noticed the smell coming from there.”
The SA Community Crime Watch Group told TimesLIVE that the paws were found in a bag. "There was also a jacket and beanie found with the bag‚" said group spokesperson Morne Engelbrecht.
Mokgadi said no arrests had been made but police were following all leads.
The lions were killed in the early hours of Monday after being poisoned. "At around 12.30am on October 1‚ security guards patrolled the park and discovered there was something wrong‚" said the park's Bronwyn Moss. "It was found that five lions had passed away. One of them had part of their face and all their paws chopped off‚" she added.
She said the attackers had seemingly gained entry into the lodge by cutting through the fence.
Engelbrecht said security officials had earlier done their rounds and all the lions were okay. When they went for their follow-up rounds‚ one security guard noticed that the lions were sleeping. "He became suspicious and threw a stone but saw that they were unresponsive‚" he said.
It was possible that the security guards had disrupted the attackers before they could get the paws of the other four lions.
"The lion that had its paws cut off also had a bloodied snout. It was unclear what had happened but possibly‚ they were trying to take its teeth‚" Engelbrecht said.
This was not the first time the park’s animals have been attacked. Several years ago‚ the heads and paws of some lions were taken. Moss said the attack and mutilation of lions was a growing scourge.
The park remained open to the public except for the area where the latest incident occurred. Park officials were offering a reward for any information that could lead to arrests.