A pride of seven lions from the Karoo National Park outside Beaufort West in the Western Cape was put down on Tuesday after two escapes in a 24-hour period.

SANParks’ acting head of communication, Rey Thakhul said in the first incident, in the early hours of Monday morning, three lions from the pride of seven escaped from the park’s northern boundary along the Nuweveld Mountain range onto private property.

They subsequently killed 10 sheep on the neighbouring farm.

Thakhuli said “Rangers were immediately dispatched and succeeded in chasing the animals back to the park. They then slept on the mountain in case the lions returned to the carcasses, which they did during the night”.

He said SANParks’ predator management policy made provision for the control of damage-causing animals.

“In an attempt to deter human-predator conflict and conservation, a management decision was taken to react quickly and put down the entire pride. Because of the very difficult mountainous terrain, rangers could not get close to the animals on foot. A helicopter was subsequently brought in to assist in putting down the two sub-adult males, three sub-adult females and two adult females.”

Thakhuli said the pride was considered a “damage-causing group of animals” who was concentrated in the high mountainous areas next to the northern boundary of the park, causing a serious risk to human life and livestock.

He added that Park management was in constant contact with the property owner, who was kept up to date with proceedings.