South Africa: Tourists Save Lion Trapped By Poachers In Kruger National Park

A group of tourists visiting the Kruger National Park in South Africa have been credited with saving the life of a wild lion that was left for dead — allegedly by poachers. According to a CNN report, the lion, a young male, was spotted by the group of tourists in an emaciated state and close to dying on the side of a road while on a safari. The lion also had a poacher’s noose wrapped very tightly around its neck. Worried at the condition of the lion, the tourists decided to do something and help the hapless animal. In order to let the world know about the plight of the lion, they posted the pictures of the animal on social media. Within hours, the images spread like wildfire over the Internet. The worldwide attention led to authorities acting quickly and eventually saving the life of the lion.

According to Glenn Phillips, the managing executive of Kruger National Park, it was the social media post made by the tourists that helped them locate the injured lion.

“Social media was ‘crucial to this operation,’ ” Phillips said.

He went on to add that the park officials were alerted about the lion on Saturday by another tourist. However, they were unable to track and find the animal. They were, however, able to locate the injured lion after fresh pictures of it were posted online by the tourists who managed to spot it.

“Because people were able to communicate and post pictures on Facebook, we were immediately able to get a sense of the condition of the animal for our vets, and we were also able to get markers of where the lion was last seen,” Phillips further added.

Contrary to popular notion, it is not very easy to find a specific animal in the huge park, which encompasses an area of 19,485 square kilometers (7,523 sq.miles). To put that into perspective, it is just about the same size as that of the entire country of Israel, which spans 20,770 sq. kilometers (8018 sq. miles).

“There’s a perception that it’s so easy to find these animals and that’s not true,” Glenn revealed.

After the first report of the injured lion was received on Saturday, a search team was sent to find and save the animal. However, they were unable to locate the lion, even after searching the area for an entire day. Officials believe the lion had moved into another area of the park by the time they reached the initially reported location.

After the tourists located the lion, a search party was sent again on tuesday. When the lion was finally located, it was seen walking through a crocodile-infested river. A helicopter was used to fire a tranquilizer dart at the lion and attempt the rescue. After the lion fell unconscious, a team of doctors evaluated his wounds and deduced that the lion was not severely wounded and would be able to recover completely.

Glenn Phillips said the following.

“What the vets found was that the skin on the surface was damaged and broken, but the actual tissue below was intact. So the wound looked a lot worse than it actually was.”

The rescue team were also able to remove a snare trap that was found on the lion. A snare is a trap with a noose that keeps on getting tighter as the animal makes efforts to escape. This time though, the lion was able to break away a part of the trap.

Even though park officials were able to save this lion, the problem of poaching in the park continues. There are 700 park rangers manning the 1,400 kilometer (870 miles) boundary — which is still inadequate to keep all the animals in the park secure. A large amount of rangers are being used to protect the Rhino population in the park, as well.

[Image via Guides and Rangers/Facebook]