Africa

South Africa's runaway lion Sylvester given own pride

Sylvester the lion Image copyright SAN Parks
Image caption It is thought Sylvester the lion was running away from older male lions when he got through the fence at Karoo National Park

A South African lion called Sylvester who twice fled a national park will be rehoused rather than put down, and encouraged to become an alpha male.

Karoo national park authorities had originally considered putting Sylvester down but will now rehouse the animal away from male competition.

The lion's plight was highlighted in a Twitter campaign in South Africa.

Sylvester will now join two young female lions in Addo Elephant National Park in the Eastern Cape province.

Sylvester escaped at the end of March by crawling under an electric fence after heavy rain dislodged earth, a park spokesperson said at the time.

It is thought three-year-old Sylvester was running away from threatening older males.

The move will establish him as the dominant male, said Fundisile Mketeni, CEO of South Africa National Parks.

"There is always a risk that this lion may break out again but this will be mitigated to a large extent by reducing any potential conflict with other males," Mr Mketeni added.

Last June, Sylvester went on a three-week sheep-killing spree, wandering 300km (180 miles) before he was found taking a nap by rangers and airlifted from the Nuweveld Mountains.

When he was found he was fitted with a tracking collar.

The second time he escaped, rescuers followed the signal from his collar to find him high up in the mountains in Western Cape again.

He was tranquilised and airlifted by helicopter, an operation the park authorities captured on video.

He had been away for four days.

Image copyright SAN Parks
Image caption Sylvester has a tracking collar on so was tracked down by helicopters and tranquilised
Image copyright SAN Parks
Image caption The park authorities hope Sylvester will bond with these two females and establish himself as the resident pride male in his new home

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