A male  lion sleeps in its enclosure. File Picture: DAILY DISPATCH/SIBONGILE NGALWA
A male lion sleeps in its enclosure. File Picture: DAILY DISPATCH/SIBONGILE NGALWA

Poachers have killed three male lions in Limpopo and taken their heads and paws.

Andre de Lange‚ owner of the Tzaneen Lion and Predator Park at Letaba River Lodge‚ said workers found the carcasses on Wednesday morning.

He said it cost him R900,000. He had a similar incident six months ago. "This time the damages are a lot more. It is a big mess."

De Lange said the poachers had to cut through three wire fences and bypass an advanced alarm system.

"The public can’t come near their enclosure‚ the guests don’t come close. It had to be someone with knowledge about the park‚" he said.

De Lange said lion poaching had become a big issue for lion farmers like himself. The animals were often killed for muthi.

"If it continues like this‚ I will have to leave this industry. It is just to costly and it becomes impossible to continue in this industry‚" he said.

"I don’t have insurance because it costs around R100,000 a month to insure a lion and I don’t make that much money.

"I am a young farmer. If it continues like this‚ all young farmers will leave the industry and find something else to do‚" he said.

Last year‚ during the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) conference in Johannesburg‚ nine African countries proposed maximum protection for lions as an endangered species‚ but this was voted down.

Lieutenant-Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said Tzaneen police were hunting for the suspects.

"It is alleged that an unknown number of suspects cut the fence and entered the lion cage at Letaba River Lodge outside Tzaneen and killed three brown male lions‚" he said.

"They cut all the lions’ legs‚ paws and heads off. The total value of these lions was R900,000."

Ngoepe said no arrests had been made yet.

TMG Digital/The Times

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