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.


Tired of Zoom calls? Company offers at-home hologram machines

Updated 07 August 2020

Tired of Zoom calls? Company offers at-home hologram machines

  • ‘We say if you can’t be there, you can beam there’
  • Device made by PORTL lets users talk in real time with a life-sized hologram of another person
LOS ANGELES: Looking for a new way to communicate during the pandemic? A Los Angeles company has created phone booth-sized machines to beam live holograms into your living room.
The device made by PORTL Inc. lets users talk in real time with a life-sized hologram of another person.
The machines also can be equipped with technology to enable interaction with recorded holograms of historical figures or relatives who have passed away.
Each PORTL device is seven feet (2.1m) tall, five feet (1.5m) wide and two feet (0.6m) deep, and can be plugged into a standard wall outlet. Anyone with a camera and a white background can send a hologram to the machine in what Chief Executive David Nussbaum calls “holoportation.”
“We say if you can’t be there, you can beam there,” said Nussbaum, who previously worked at a company that developed a hologram of Ronald Reagan for the former president’s library and digitally resurrected rapper Tupac Shakur.
“We are able to connect military families that haven’t seen each other in months, people from opposite coasts,” or anyone who is social distancing to fight the coronavirus, Nussbaum added.
Prices for the machine start at $60,000, a cost that Nussbaum expects will drop over the next three to five years. The company also plans a smaller tabletop device with a lower price tag early next year.
The devices can be equipped with artificial intelligence technology from Los Angeles-based company StoryFile to produce hologram recordings that can be archived. Adding that to the current device brings the cost to at least $85,000.
The companies are promoting to museums, which could let visitors question a hologram of a historical figure, and to families to record information for future generations.
People can feel like they are having a conversation with a recorded hologram, said StoryFile Chief Executive Heather Smith.
“(You) feel their presence, see their body language, see all their non-verbal cues,” she said. “You feel like you’ve actually talked to that individual even though they were not there.”