The Limpopo government has confirmed that the lions which have been roaming around in Phalaborwa have now returned to their usual pride location.
“The department also confirms that the animals will be kept within the area. The department’s role is to enforce control where human lives are threatened. The lions have not been of any threat to humans,” the department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism in the province said in a statement on Saturday.
Earlier in the day, MEC Thabo Mokone said the pride of 14 lions roaming around in Phalaborwa is “not going anywhere” and has assured residents that there is nothing to fear.
Speaking to the SABC on Saturday, Mokone said a stakeholder meeting will take place to decide on a way forward. “There will be no darting of the lions,” he said.
“People of Phalaborwa should not fear. If people see them, they should report it,” added Mokone.
On Friday morning, Phalaborwa residents were warned against the lions roaming the streets which were believed to have escaped from the Kruger National Park (KNP). However, KNP staff denied that the lions belonged to the game park.
Spokesperson for SANParks Isaac Phaahla said: “It has been reported that this pride has been residing for more than a year within the Foskor, Phalaborwa Mining Company and direct adjacent areas, moving along the Selati River system. This area is outside, but adjacent to Kruger and also contains elephant, buffalo and other wildlife.
In a series of tweets, the economic development department confirmed this, saying the lions have been residing at the Foksor mine.
The department stated that neither SANParks nor neighbouring private game reserves would be able to keep the animals “as they might clash with existing lion prides in established territories”.