A young lion caught in a snare trap in Zimbabwe became the center of attention of a growing crowd that initially hindered rescue efforts by veterinarians of Aware Trust Zimbabwe last week.
Locals in the Nyamunga township of Kariba reported hearing the roars of a lion coming from thick vegetation near a house, and as they waited five hours for help to arrive, the crowd grew in size to about 1,000, according to The Zimbabwean, Sky News and Aware Trust Zimbabwe.
The video picks up with Mark van Zuydam and Keith Dutlow of Aware Trust Zimbabwe attempting to sedate the lion:
“Eventually after circling the suspected position for almost two hours, there was a stroke of luck,” Aware Trust Zimbabwe wrote on Facebook. “A tiny window presented itself and Keith Dutlow was able to get a clear shot so we could immobilize the lion and get to work.”
But with the crowd buzzing loudly nearby, the rescuers were having a difficult time keeping the lion anesthetized “due to the over-stimulation created by the entire scene.”
Lisa Marabini even put cotton in the lion’s ears in an attempt to deaden the crowd noise.
“We managed to attract a crowd of excited onlookers,” Aware Trust Zimbabwe wrote. “As time progressed this crowd grew to a size that you will see was bordering on a stadium feeling. We were located at the bottom of a gorge so everywhere we looked up there appeared to be more and more excited spectators.”
Finally the rescuers managed to untangle the snare from the tree and carry the lion on stretcher through the crowd to a waiting vehicle.
People clamored to see or touch the lion, and chased after the vehicle for more than a half-mile before the rescuers found peace and quiet, and managed to remove the snare from the lion’s paw.
The rescuers stopped and unloaded the lion to check its condition further. X-rays revealed no broken bones, though it was unclear what damage was done due to the temporary lack of circulation. Officials released the lion back into the wild with the belief that there was no long-term serious injury or damage done.
One commenter asked on Facebook why the crowd wouldn’t be quiet.
“It was a case of a frenzied mob mentality taking over,” Aware Trust Zimbabwe replied. “The police and rangers were completely outnumbered and were completely ignored.”