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In this week’s news wrap an elderly man was attacked and mauled by a large male lion while tourists watched helplessly at a lion park in Limpopo Province; a report claims that a lion slaughterhouse was established ‘overnight’ on a farm outside Bloemfontein; power lines threaten Cape vulture’s future according to VulPro; and good news as Uganda has begun counting its population of critically endangered mountain gorillas amid confidence their numbers are steadily rising, boosting prospects for its tourism industry.

Video: Lion attacks man as visitors to lion park scream in terror (full story: AG News Desk)
Man attacked by lion in enclosure
Image grabbed from video footage. See video here

In yet another tragedy related to the controversial commercialisation of caged big cats, an elderly man was attacked, dragged like a rag doll and mauled by a large male lion while tourists watched helplessly, some screaming in terror. This follows on the tragic death in March of a young woman attacked and killed by a lion belonging to ‘lion whisperer’ celebrity Kevin Richardson, and numerous other tragic incidents involving caged big cats.

The man, believed to be the owner of the Marakele Predator Park near Thabazimbi in Limpopo Province, South Africa, is reportedly recovering in hospital and the lion was subsequently shot and killed.

In the video footage, the elderly man is seen entering the lion enclosure and approaching the lion to inspect a lion scat, before turning his back on the lion and running back to the gate. The lion caught the man and dragged him away into dense shrubs a few meters away. What sounds like gun or bear banger shots are heard, as some of the staff distracted the lion.

Marakele Predator Park hosts a variety of predators and other animals, and offers a “Lion Mobile” vehicle experience to tourists where they enter the lion enclosure in a vehicle, and pictures on the website suggest that lions jump onto the vehicle which is covered in a cage. According to the Marakele Predator Park website: “Come and take a ride on the wild side in our purpose built LION MOBILE I can promise you that SHAMBA will jump up and look you in the eyes, he also sits on the top of the truck whilst we take the drive through the camp, a super photo opportunity to be had by all!”

Blood Lions, the award-winning documentary about the canned lion hunting industry, commented on their Facebook page that this is another sad case of “captive bred lions being used for entertainment – the cruel reality of the cub petting, predator breeding and canned hunting industry which many tourists, unknowingly, participate in. Blood Lions maintains that the predator breeding industry and their use in an exploitative, commercial cycle needs to STOP.” (continue to full story and video here)

Lion mass slaughter house (full story: AG News Desk)
Man drying lion bones and carcass, lion bone trade
© Blood Lions / Facebook

Editorial comment: Please be aware that this news relates to captive-bred lions and not wild lions. This does not diminish the seriousness and abhorrence of this situation, but it is an important distinction.

A statement released by Blood Lions claims that there has been a mass lion shooting in the Free State Province, South Africa. The Blood Lions team and other environmentalists reacted with horror to reports that a lion slaughterhouse was established ‘overnight’ on a farm outside Bloemfontein.

The team said in a statement that 19 lions were shot on this farm last week and 80 were allegedly on their way to the Free State, or were already being held on the farm to be shot and their bones to be sent to the East. However, another source said 26 lions were shot on the farm on Tuesday and 28 more were shot on Wednesday. Allegedly the lions were anaesthetised before they got shot.

Their skeletons are then boiled until the meat falls off. After that, the bones are brought to a collecting point at a free-trade branch in the Free State where everything gets prepared for export. Traders in China and Vietnam pay for what is claimed to be as much as R100,000 for a lion skeleton exported from South Africa.

Blood Lions referred to the decision of Environmental Minister Edna Molewa, who announced last year that 800 lion skeletons may be exported to the East every year. (continue to full story here)

Read more: Lion bone trade: New report reveals South African government’s role

Power lines threaten Cape Vulture’s future – wildlife organisation (full story: News24)
Electrocuted vulture
VulPro says many vultures die because of powerlines © VulPro

The future of the vulnerable Cape Vulture hangs in the balance as older design power lines continue to kill or maim birds, non-governmental organisation VulPro said this week.

In April, it recorded 23 vultures – mainly the endemic Cape Vulture  – that were either killed or permanently injured on power lines around the country. At the weekend, this number increased to 28.

VulPro founder Kerri Wolter said most of these recorded cases were in the North West and Eastern Cape. She has raised concerns because they were used to seeing a mortality rate on power lines of around three vultures per month.

“The tragedy of this latest unacceptably high tally is that it is possible to proof powerlines to prevent these mortalities from happening,” she said.

“For our team, the death by electrocution of the oldest of our captive-bred chicks, which was released last year on 8 November to help supplement the wild bird population, hit us particularly hard.” (continue to full story here)

Uganda counts gorillas amid tourism-boosting ‘baby boom’ (full story: AG News Desk)
Mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda
© Rod Waddington / Flickr

Uganda has begun counting its population of critically endangered mountain gorillas amid confidence their numbers are steadily rising, boosting prospects for its tourism industry that relies heavily on the primates.

The last census in 2011 showed the East African country had 480 mountain gorillas in two protected areas, or about half of the world’s surviving population. The others are in neighbouring Rwanda and Congo’s forested mountain areas.

Since March a census team has been traversing Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, collecting the gorillas’ dung and examining their nests for hair samples and other clues. Their data, which will be subjected to genetic analysis in Europe, is far more reliable than a head count, wildlife officials said.

The census ends in mid-May and results are not expected for several months.

“We have some hope that we shall register a few more individuals because we feel that we have been doing some things right,” said Simplicious Gessa, a spokesman for the Uganda Wildlife Authority. “We have had a huge baby boom over the years in our habituated groups.” (continue to full story here)

Africa Geographic Travel
News Desk

A collection of current affairs articles and press releases from third party sources.