An escaped Bengal tiger which was being kept as a pet is being hunted by police with drones and helicopters after it attacked a dog walker. Sheba, an eight-year-old tigress, has so far killed two dogs and an antelope after breaking out of a smallholding in Walkerville, 18 miles from the South African capital of Johannesburg.
Police have said the big cat’s owner discovered the fence to Sheba’s compound had been cut.
The man and his pets were attacked close to the property, where Sheba was hand-reared.
People living in the vicinity of Walker’s Fruit Farm have been warned to stay indoors.
Witnesses sounded the alarm after they heard the screams of the 39-year-old man, who survived the mauling on Saturday evening.
Soaring temperatures tall grass are hampering police efforts to track Sheba from the sky, and officers are currently searching for her on foot.
A member of the local community policing forum (CPF) told TimesLive website: “She is probably resting under a tree.
“A few of us are ready to head into the veld to look for her.
“The owner has come to terms with the fact that she is likely to be shot.”
They added: “If we can dart her we will do everything in our power to do that, but it is not guarantee.”
Sheba was spotted yesterday (Monday) near a waterhole by a South African Police Service helicopter fitted with thermal technology.
The CPF’s Gresham Mandy said: “The tracking team on foot saw very fresh paw prints around the waterhole.
“They also smelled her, so she was very close but the bush was too thick and too risky for them to enter.”
Despite not being native to South Africa, or indeed anywhere on the continent, tigers have become increasingly popular as pets in recent years.
Nearly ten percent of the world’s tiger population was exported from South Africa between 2011 and 2020, with most of them being sold to zoos.
Keshvi Nair, spokeswoman of the National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said: “It’s extremely dangerous and irresponsible to keep these animals in a residential area, and to keep wildlife in captivity.”
This article by Ciaran McGrath was first published by The Express on 17 January 2023. Lead Image: Gresham Mandy said Sheba was spotted yesterday (Image: Newzroom Afrika).
What you can do
Support ‘Fighting for Wildlife’ by donating as little as $1 – It only takes a minute. Thank you.
Fighting for Wildlife supports approved wildlife conservation organizations, which spend at least 80 percent of the money they raise on actual fieldwork, rather than administration and fundraising. When making a donation you can designate for which type of initiative it should be used – wildlife, oceans, forests or climate.