Teams searching for Karoo the lion get unexpected assistance

Karoo lion
Karoo lion


Teams searching for Karoo the lion get unexpected assistance. Chief operations officer of Bidvest Protea Coin, Waal de Waal, said: “Although this is not Bidvest’s core business, we are keen to assist due to the unique circumstances of the case, our love for animals and conservation, and because our specialised equipment is perfectly suited to the requirements and conditions.

‘This will give us an advantage over the lion which we haven’t had to date,’ says the park manager. Security solutions provider Bidvest Protea Coin has sent a specialised team to assist with the ongoing search for the male lion which escaped from Karoo National Park near Beaufort West last month and is still on the loose.

“We have one of only two choppers in the country fitted with forward-looking infrared (FLIR), or thermal imaging infrared cameras, which allows us to pick up heat signatures on the ground over a radius of 10 kilometres when flying at night.”

The four-person team left Centurion in Gauteng on Friday morning and after a couple of stops to refuel along the way, De Waal and his team were expected to arrive in Fraserburg at about lunchtime on Friday.

Karoo lion

The team will meet up with Karoo Park manager Nico van der Walt and his group of rangers and trackers on the ground and discuss their plan of action. The Bidvest team also has a tracker on board, who will assist the team on the ground.

De Waal has availed his team to the park for the next three days and nights.

“We will be joined on Saturday by a drone pilot we use quite regularly, who is also equipped to fly at night. We hope the combination of FLIR and the drone will be able to assist in getting the Rangers on the ground closer to the lion. We are happy to assist South African National Parks at no cost, with the hope that we can play a small role in seeing a happy outcome with the lion’s return to Karoo National Park,” said De Waal.

Van der Walt said the technology is welcome. “Should the aerial team be able to track the lion down overnight and keep an eye on him while the ground teams are resting, we will have a much better idea of where to continue our search, hopefully from much closer, in the morning. This will give us an advantage over the lion which we haven’t had to date.”

Meanwhile, the team picked up the lion’s spoor about 110km in a north-westerly direction from the Park on Friday morning. The team consists of about a dozen rangers and trackers sent in from Addo Elephant, Camdeboo, and Mountain Zebra national parks in the Eastern Cape.

Source: The Citizen

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