South African escaped tiger found and euthanized

A tiger that escaped from a private farm in South Africa attacked a man and killed two dogs and a pig while it was out for several days on Wednesday.

Police said 8-year-old Nimr Sheba was shot in the early hours of the morning after she was spotted in a residential area near her escape spot in Walkerville, south of Johannesburg. Sheba, who was kept as a pet in a small pen, escaped on Saturday.

Officials said it was impossible to catch the big cat safely and its owner gave the go-ahead for it to be euthanized.

“Because of the terrain and the area, it would not have been possible to safely contain or secure it,” said Gresham Mandy, a representative of the community police group. “At 3:45 a.m. the decision was made to euthanize her while it was safe to do so. Unfortunately at that moment moving her was not an option.”

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Mandy said it was “not an easy decision” but the safety of the community was a “priority”.

William Mokwena told South African television station ENCA how he was attacked by a leopard on Saturday night as he was walking home from a grocery store. Mokoena said the tiger pounced on him when he bent down to tie his shoelaces and tried to drag him away. He said he used his legs to fight off the tiger.

A community police group searches for a tiger that escaped from its enclosure in Walkerville, south of Johannesburg, South Africa, on January 16, 2023.
(AP Photo/Themba Hadibe)

Search officials used drones and a helicopter to try to locate Sheba. Mandy said the big cat was finally tracked down in a nearby farming area and close to a number of homes.

The tiger’s escape has led animal welfare organizations to question South Africa’s laws on keeping exotic animals as pets. The SPCA said it was concerned a license was not required for exotic animals in Gauteng province where Shiba was kept.

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“This tigress, who has already demonstrated the behavior of a tiger in the wild, did not wander into a residential area alone,” the agency said. “She had been brought there inadvertently to be held captive, something that should not have been allowed in the first place.”

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