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Kruger National Park
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Snared Lion Cut Free
by Michele Hofmeyr
Scientific Services, Skukuza
Predators, such as lions are particularly susceptible to being caught in wire snares, which are usually set for antelope such as impala or kudu. Lions will walk along game paths and become trapped in snares set along these paths.
“Lions have a soft skin and the wire snare will soon cut through the skin as the lion struggles to get loose. It results in a deep painful wound that quickly becomes infected and could result in a prolonged and excruciating death for the animal” says Dr Markus Hofmeyr, Head of the SANParks Veterinary Wildlife Services based in Skukuza.
Luckily this was not the case for a lion that was unfortunate enough to become ensnared on his hind leg. The vets from the Veterinary Wildlife Service will respond to animals that are injured with snares and the unit was notified about this lion, spotted near the Singita Lebombo Lodge in the Kruger National Park. This lion was in a tourist area but he wasn’t often seen, so the team had to act quickly to get to the lion and remove the snare. “Often these animals disappear by the time we get to the place where they were last seen” says Dr Hofmeyr “but thanks to the diligent staff of Singita Lebombo Lodge, there was a ranger keep an eye on the lion until we arrived”.
The lion was in a company of two females and a few cubs and it is likely that he was getting his meals from their kills as he was hardly able to walk due to the wound the snare had inflicted on his leg. The lion was darted, the wire snare cut off and the wound cleaned and treated. He also got a dose of antibiotics to prevent any further infections.
According to Dr Hofmeyr, the prognosis looks good, despite a deep painful wound as the wire had cut through the skin and damaged the muscles. The rangers from Singita Lebombo Lodge spotted the lion a week later and it seems he has made a remarkable recovery and was seen walking on his wounded leg. It appears that the wound was healing well and putting weight on the leg is always a good sign that the lion is on the road to a full recovery.