The incident underscores the perils wild animals face at the hands of poachers in South Africa, including its vast wilderness reserves.
The lion, which some have named Percy, was first spotted late Saturday on a road that runs through a remote portion of the park, prompting a search effort aided by social media.
The lion was located, darted, treated and released in reasonably good health on Monday.
“The young lad really showed some perseverance,” reads a statement on a Facebook page administered by the activist group, Enough Is Enough. “Thank you to one and all involved in this rescue, we are extremely grateful and proud to have such a positive outcome this time.”
The group was one of many that used Facebook and Twitter to share sighting information with rangers as they searched frantically for the animal, which would have died had much more time passed with the snare digging into its neck and throat.
It remains unclear how long Percy had roamed with the snare, but he was not easy to catch.
Enough Is Enough spokesperson Lize Roos Bester, one of the first to learn about the plight of the lion, told GrindTV, “He was spotted for the first time on Saturday night and we immediately took action to find him and help him. He is an excellent escape artist. He took rangers on a joy ride for two days.”
News 24 quotes Lesley Nyawo of Kruger National Park as saying that shortly after the snare had been removed, the lion roamed freely into the bush. This was surprising, considering that Kruger vets figured they were going to have to euthanize the animal.
“Upon assessment of the wound by the vets, it appeared not to be as bad as anticipated and displayed by images,” Nyawo said.
Nyawao later added in a statement, “On behalf of Kruger National Park Management, we take this opportunity to thank you all for the contribution and support we received – from when the lion was reported to its rescue.”
While this story has a happy ending, anger still exists regarding this attempted poaching incident and others that occur sporadically in and around Kruger and other parks.
Said Bester, “Big and small, all the animals are targeted. The hyenas suffer the most and then the elephants. This was only the second lion [poaching incident] that I’ve heard of since we launched in September.”
Monday morning, she posted an update to Facebook: “The good news I just received is that he has two [lion] friends in the area, staying close to him, he was not on his own as we thought yesterday. I have more hope for Percy by the minute.”
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