Emaciated lions broke free from cages at a sport reserve which breeds animals to be shot by rich trophy hunters.
Cops took two days to observe and seize seven large cats – 5 males and two females – after they have been noticed scouring for meals in native villages.
They say that they had earlier escaped from Ingogo Safaris park in Limpopo province, South Africa, the place greater than 70 large cats – together with tigers – have been held captive.
The nation’s main animal welfare organisation confirmed it was at present bringing fees in opposition to the park’s proprietor, Walter Slippers.
He has repeatedly been investigated over allegations he retains the animals in squalid situations.
Slippers reportedly has 72 lions on his farm the place he’s mentioned to feed them a giraffe each two to three weeks.
The surprising case highlights a scarcity of monitoring of the highly-controversial captive lion business, say campaigners.
Douglas Wolhuter, from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NSPCA), mentioned Slippers ought to by no means have been given a allow to maintain large cats in the primary place.
“Not solely was the fencing wholly insufficient however the welfare of those animals has persistently been compromised,” he mentioned.
NSPCA officers carried out an inspection on the properties simply final month the place Wolhuter mentioned they discovered “deplorable situations” and “underweight lions” in “unhygienic and small enclosures”.
On Facebook, Slippers denied there was any reality in the stories.
“The media will say any factor to promote a narrative, there isn’t any reality in this,” he wrote. “Lions are again in their camp and secure.”
Animal welfare group, Four Paws, is without doubt one of the organizations working to put an finish to the captive lion business.
They even have their very own sanctuary known as LionsRock which is devoted to rescuing abused lions and different large cats.
There are round 260 farms throughout South Africa that breed lions purely to fulfill the needs of rich hunters.
And yearly, 1000’s of vacationers journey to the area simply to kill unique animals and take house their carcass as a trophy.