Wildlife authority kills pride of lions after affected community stages sit-in over safety concerns
Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife destroyed a pride of lions that was terrorising two communities recently after the locals cut down a fence and staged a sit-in inside the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Park (HiP) threatening to hunt and kill the animals themselves.
The wildlife authority said in a statement on Sunday it took two community representatives from Nqulwane and Okhukho in northern KwaZulu-Natal on a verification flight on Friday to show them the carcasses of six lions. The big cats from the HiP are believed to have eaten at least six cows and left the locals living in fear of their lives.
Community members staged several protests including cutting down the fence and occupying land in the HiP until MEC for economic development, tourism and environmental affairs Ravi Pillay resolved their concerns about safety and compensation but also decided to hunt the lions and kill them.
They said the lions had come into contact with people and, instead of running away which is natural behaviour in such encounters, they walked straight towards the people forcing them to retreat.
The community said the authority and local government had failed to assist them after they claimed the lions were devouring their livestock and livelihood.
Pillay met with the community on Tuesday and resolved to:
- Destroy the lions if they escape again as it was feared they might soon attack people;
- Bring forward plans to repair the fence and local people should be employed when the repairs are made;
- Host a public participation workshop to review compensation policies at their community hall.
Lucky Ngqulunga and Similo Khanyile, members of the affected Okhukho and Nqulwane communities were flown over an area where six lions were destroyed on Friday.
The authority said 94 people were employed as fence liners to date.
A follow-up meeting with the department and local chiefs and leaders will be held on Tuesday to discuss the employment of more locals.
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