Long Tom lion finally captured

LYDENBURG – The elusive and majestic Long Tom lion, which has been roaming this pass for a week, was captured last Saturday.
The cat was first spotted on May 29 about 10 kilometres from the Mbombela/Sabie turn-off. In four days he made his way over rough plantation terrain and was eventually darted and captured about 20 kilometres from town.
Early on Saturday morning WO Ian Nel from Lydenburg SAPS received a phone call that the lion has again been spotted – this time at Hops Hollow.

 


Nel and other police officers immediately went to the scene and kept an eye on the cat until members of the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) arrived.
Members risked their lives to capture the lion, as the sedation repeatedly wore off. He had to be sedated four times.
Willem Pretorius, a local farmer, supplied his sniffer dogs to pinpoint the exact spot where the lion fled into the bush after the first sedation. Des Jacobs, a local photographer, supplied his drone.
A close encounter also occurred when Gerrie Camacho, predator expert at MTPA, approached the darted lion. “He suddenly rose and roared. At that moment, luckily the dogs managed to draw his attention away.”
Steelburger/Lydenburg News was the only media house on the scene when this cat was finally loaded into a crate after being nabbed by MTPA members.
According to Camacho, this is not just  any cat.


“This lion is about four to five years old. In the field, if circumstances are favourable, they could grow as old as 10 to 12 years. It is, however, a relative understanding.
As he would have grown older, his mane would have darkened, unfortunately  making him a prize trophy as a dark-
maned cat.”
This is the third lion that has been found in this area. Camacho said he suspects that this lion could, in fact, be, a Kruger National Park or a Lowveld one.
“His build and form give him away. This was the first thing that popped into my head when I saw the pictures. This is definitely a field lion.
“He has had to work for his food and that is evident when one looks at some of his front teeth that are missing. He has some abscesses on his rump and tail, indicating scuffles with other cats. I suspect that he was pushed out of the territory and made his way to the pass.”
The lion first feasted on a cow he caught before he was darted the first time by MTPA members. Blood on his mane and face was still visible after his capture.


Camacho said lions have about a two-year territory advantage before being dethroned by a younger and stronger male cat. “Although they are more concerned with protecting their territory, there is nothing wrong with a male lion’s hunting skills. This was proven on Saturday.”
The lion was taken to Wildlife Vet in Mbombela. The cat will be tested for tuberculosis and other possible diseases. The outcome of the tests will determine if, where and when the lion will be released.
Capt Kaizer Moela, Lydenburg SAPS communications manager, said he applauded the effort and collaboration between all parties involved. “The capture of the lion was a result of the combined efforts of all parties involved.”
According to Camacho, this lion has become known as the Long Tom lion.
Steelburger/Lydenburg News will keep readers updated on the test results and possible release of the cat.

  AUTHOR
Narda Vermaak
Journalist

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