South Africa’s stealthy lion Sylvester escapes from reserve again

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – A South African lion called “Sylvester”, who was on the loose for three weeks last year, has escaped from his game reserve again and is wandering a sparsely-populated mountain region, South African National Parks (SANParks) said on Tuesday.

The big cat probably broke out by crawling under an electric fence after heavy rains dislodged earth over the weekend, SANParks spokeswoman Fayroush Ludick told Reuters.

“We realized early yesterday morning when they check all the satellite tracking collars that he had escaped. We are awaiting a helicopter to begin an aerial search,” Ludick said.

The likelihood of him encountering a human being were slim, Ludick said, but urged people not to approach Sylvester should they come across him.

“It’s the very same lion that escaped last year. I think we should change his name to Houdini,” Ludick added, referring to the famous Hungarian-American illusionist and escape artist.

Last June, the animal nicknamed Sylvester, went on a sheep killing spree, wandering 300 kms (180 miles) before he was found taking a nap by rangers and airlifted from the Nuweveld Mountains, 5,800 feet (1,750 meters) above sea level.

“We anticipate this operation will be a lot quicker because he is wearing a tracking collar,” Ludick said.

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