Missing Kruger Lions: Why SANParks Won’t Use Helicopters In Search Of Them


The South African National Parks (SANParks) group said on Thursday that it won’t use helicopters in search of the missing Kruger lions that escaped from the park earlier this week.

In May, SANpark used a helicopter to find some missing lions after a public alarm was raised. This time, the group said the expensive resource won’t be used again as missing lions do not pose a high threat to humans and livestock.

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A member of the group Markus Hofmeyr told reporters: “Helicopters are only used in exceptional cases. It would be pointless to try and track them now with the area that they’re in. It’s very dense bush and a helicopter will only be of help if they know where the lions are.”

Earlier this week, SANParks released a statement on the missing lions. Therein, it affirmed that the current batch of felines on the run was spotted in a mountainous area south of the park in Mpumalanga.

SANParks added that their presence in the region makes capture efforts difficult, though the cats are not an immediate threat to humans or livestock. The Lions are believed to have been driven out by population pressures.

“At this stage, there have been no reports of any livestock killed and there have been no threats to any humans. They’re in fairly rugged terrain where there aren’t many people at the moment,” Hofmeyr said earlier this week.

Meanwhile, the Health & Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) are expected to hold a nationwide strike at SANParks following a wage talk deadlocks.

Hospersa had demanded a 9% wage increase for workers while SANParks insisted it can only increase workers’ wage by 6%. Workers at SANParks fear that the looming industrial action could hamper the search for the missing Kruger lions.

“The planned industrial action could not have come at a worse time for SANParks’ tourism haven‚ the Kruger National Park. The park is still searching for the four lions reported missing two days ago.

The industrial action will hamper the search of the missing Kruger lions as close to 3‚000 workers will down tools in coming days‚ with most of them working in the Kruger National Park,” Hospersa said in a statement.

Hospersa workers gearing up for the strike include field rangers‚ field guides and petrol attendants, receptionists, hut attendants, and security guards.

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Formed in 1926, SANParks is a body responsible for managing South Africa’s national parks. It manages 19 parks in the country currently.