14 lions escape from Kruger park in S.Africa

In this file photo taken on July 19, 2011 a lioness stands in the light after a night patrol exercice with the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) company against rhino's poachers along the Mozambique border in the Kruger National Park. (AFP)
Updated 08 June 2019

14 lions escape from Kruger park in S.Africa

  • The Kruger National Park covers nearly two million hectares (4.9 million acres) and is home to over 500 bird species and 147 mammal species

JOHANNESBURG: A pride of 14 lions is on the loose near a mining community bordering South Africa’s Kruger National Park, officials said Friday, and warned members of the public to be alert.
The lions have been spotted roaming around the Foskor phosphate mine outside the town of Phalaborwa on the western boundary of the famed wildlife park, which is fenced in.
But a disagreement broke out what to do with the big cats, which are being monitored by a team of rangers until a new home is found where they cannot run into humans.
Officials from the Limpopo provincial government said the lions had escaped from the Kruger park and should be taken back.
But a Kruger spokesman said the big cats were not from the park and could not be moved there as well-established prides would drive them out.
“The widely reported pride of lions seen recently in the mining area outside Phalaborwa is not a known pride from the Kruger National Park,” spokesman Ike Phaahla said in a statement, adding this meant they were the responsibility of provincial authorities.
“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,” said Phaahla, adding there were elephants and buffalo aplenty for the lions to eat.
“The lion population within the Greater Kruger is very healthy, growing, and the suitable habitats occupied. It would therefore be unwise to relocate a lion pride in the territory of an existing pride,” he said.

A meeting this week between local government and park officials agreed to capture the lions and find a suitable location to place them.
But Phaahla said any pride moved to the Kruger “will continually break out as other dominant lions will chase them out.”
Until the matter is settled, he warned, “there is a danger to members of the public who are working in the area.
“There is the possibility of wildlife-human conflict, so people have to be careful,” he told SABC public television. “We need to identify a park where they can be taken and establish their own area.”
In an online statement, the provincial department of environment and tourism advised Foskor Mine employees and residents in the area “to be alert at all times.”
Earlier this week, a leopard killed a two-year-old boy inside a fenced-off staff compound in the Kruger.
A team of rangers hunted down two suspected leopards and shot them dead to avoid the risk of a repeat.
The Kruger National Park covers nearly two million hectares (4.9 million acres) and is home to over 500 bird species and 147 mammal species.


Renaissance master Raphael did a nose-job in self-portrait, face reconstruction suggests

Updated 11 August 2020

Renaissance master Raphael did a nose-job in self-portrait, face reconstruction suggests

  • Professor Mattia Falconi: ‘He certainly made his nose look more refined’
  • Raphael died in Rome in 1520 aged 37, and was buried in Rome’s Pantheon

ROME: Raphael probably didn’t like his nose, and replaced it with an idealized version in his famous self-portrait.
That is the conclusion of Rome University scientists who produced a 3D computer reconstruction of the Renaissance master’s face from a plaster cast of his presumed skull made in 1833.
In that year, the remains believed to be those of the man hailed by his contemporaries as “the divine one” because he sought perfection through his work were last exhumed.
“He certainly made his nose look more refined,” said Professor Mattia Falconi, a molecular biologist at the university’s Tor Vergata campus. “His nose was, let’s say, slightly more prominent.”
Raphael died in Rome in 1520 aged 37, probably from pneumonia, and was buried in Rome’s Pantheon.
The self-portrait, which normally hangs in Florence’s Uffizi gallery but is currently in Rome for an exhibition marking the 500th anniversary of his death, was done about 15 years earlier, when he was clean-shaven.
It features the more aquiline nose that Raphael also included in other works in which he painted himself.
The reconstruction is of the way he may have looked closer to his death, when he wore a beard.
Falconi, along with forensic anthropologists and other experts, reconstructed the face with tissue layering techniques used by crime investigators.
The result was a face similar to that of the master on an engraving by Marcantonio Raimondi, one of his students.
“When we finished, I said to myself ‘I’ve seen that face before,’” Falconi, 57, said in a telephone interview.
Another similarity is with the subject of “Portrait of a Man,” painted between 1512 and 1515 by Sebastiano del Piombo, a Raphael contemporary and rival.
For centuries there has been speculation that the bones exhumed in 1833 and reburied in a re-styled crypt may not have been Raphael’s because some of his students were later buried near him.
But Falconi believes the research points to an around 85 percent chance that the skull is Raphael’s because of similarities with most of the artist’s face as depicted by him and his contemporaries.
Not everyone was pleased with Falconi’s research. An art critic for the Rome newspaper La Repubblica said it had produced a cheap “videogame version” of Raphael.
Falconi said he hoped the tomb can be opened again someday for direct tests on the skull. This could resolve several mysteries, including confirming what caused his death.