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.


Saudi official welcomes Lionel Messi ahead of Brazil-Argentina friendly in Riyadh

Updated 15 November 2019

Saudi official welcomes Lionel Messi ahead of Brazil-Argentina friendly in Riyadh

  • They met on the sidelines of the international friendly match between Brazil and Argentina

Saudi Chairman of the General Entertainment Authority Turki Al-Sheikh met with football legend Lionel Messi on the sidelines of the international friendly match between Brazil and Argentina which will be held on Friday at King Saud University Stadium.

“I am happy to be back here,” Al-Sheikh said, welcoming the Barca forward in Riyadh.

“A lot of things have changed in Saudi Arabia in the last five years since your last visit. Prince Mohammed bin Salman changed a lot and the whole world is coming to us. He is building a new Saudi,” Al-Sheikh added.

This is Messi’s second visit to Riyadh in five years. The striker will return again on Jan. 8, where his team Barcelona will participate in the Spanish Super Cup finals in Jeddah against Valencia in the semi-finals of the tournament.

The Saudi official touched on Messi’s football career. The 32-year-old’s Barcelona club contract ends in 2021.

“I hope when your contract ends, we will see you play at (UD) Almeria,” Al-Sheikh said referring to the Spanish he owns.

Al-Sheikh also talked about the Saudi national football team, saying that he hoped the team will return to its former glory days when the Kingdom won AFC Asian Cup titles in the 80s and 90s.