LEPHALALE — Two protected white lion females were poisoned and their heads, tails and paws were removed at St. Ettienne Game Lodge approximately 50 km outside Lephalale on the Mogol River. Workers on the farm found the carcasses on Friday morning 20 May.
According to Warrant Officer Jurg van Heerden from Lephalale, it seems like the suspects knew exactly what they were doing. “They must have been familiar with the habits and routines of the lions. Who else would dare to enter a lion cage?” W.O. Van Heerden said.
W.O. Van Heerden and members of the community policing forum (CPF) followed the tracks of four suspects from the scene on the farm to the Swartwater Road were the suspects were picked up by a vehicle.
The meat used to poison the lions was picked up inside the lion enclosure and small black granules were visible on the meat.
Taso Christoforou, the owner of the farm, is adamant about finding the suspects and he said to Mogol Post that he is offering a R100 000 reward for any information that can lead to the positive arrest of the suspects. He suspects the incident can be related to traditional rituals and muti purposes.
W.O. Van Heerden says that within a week similar cases where the modus operandi of the suspects were the same, were found in Marble Hall, Groblersdal and Bela-Bela.
He suspects that the Asian market for lion bones should not be disregarded.
He warns all predator owners to be aware of the fact that incidents where lions were killed are not limited to the Lephalale area and they should watch out for their lions.
Anyone with any information regarding above cases can contact W.O. Van Heerden on 082 814 4300 or 082 414 2337.
(See page 15 for more details on the reward.)