11 January 2017 Read: 20198
Letaba River Lodge once again suffered at the hands of poachers. The popular family destination a few kilometres from Tzaneen is home to the Tzaneen Lion and Predator Park situated within the grounds at the lodge.
Last night (10 January) a group of suspected poachers killed and viciously mutilated three brown lions in their enclosure at the park. Although the exact time of the incident is not clear, it is believed that the poachers gained access to the park by cutting through three fences and sneaking passed a state-of-the-art, newly installed alarm system.
The suspects then threw poisoned meat over the fence of the lion enclosure before mutilating the animals and stealing their paws and heads.
The following morning staff at the lodge came across the carcasses and alerted security and SAPS. A blood trail was tracked to determine the suspects’ escape route. According to those findings the poachers walked down the dirt road from the lodge to the R36 where it appears as though a vehicle was waiting for them. It is believed that the lion parts were transported to Phalaborwa from where they are usually smuggled into the Kruger National Park and eventually land in the hands of sangomas in Mozambique.
Park owner, André de Lange, believes this to be an inside job. “The manner in which these poachers bypassed our security system without sounding any alarms along with other aspects of this senseless act, leads me to believe that this must have been an inside job. We cannot confirm this, but investigations are currently being conducted.”
This is the second time in six months that poachers have targeted De Lange. “Last year on Father’s Day we caught a group of poachers after they poisoned and mutilated two white lions here at the park. Those poachers provided us with information which proves that these killings are for muti and that the body parts are commissioned from medicine men and sangomas in Mozambique.”
At the time of going to print no further information was available, but police investigations are still underway.