Authorities in South Africa are searching for a tiger that escaped from its enclosure at a private farm near Johannesburg over the weekend, injured a man and left three animals dead.
The 39-year-old man survived the attack, however a dog and a deer were killed, and a second dog was so badly injured it had to be put down, said Gresham Mandy, who leads a community police group.
Residents have been warned to be on high alert in the Walkerville region south of Johannesburg and avoid confronting the animal, as a group of about 30 people search the area where its latest tracks were identified.
“We are using drones, (a) helicopter … but it’s proving a little difficult with the density of the bush,” Mandy told the Agence France-Presse news agency.
Officials directing the search suspected that the 8-year-old female Bengal tiger, named Sheba, was hiding in a bushy area for shade and were hoping it would start moving around again once the summer heat subsided or when it needed to drink water.
Members of a special police task force were expected to start leading the search on Monday and take over from a local community police group and the SPCA animal protection group.
Mandy said the first priority was to tranquilize the animal with a dart and bring it back safely. He said that the tiger escaped after a fence at the smallholding where it was kept was cut by burglars.
“It seems like the thieves cut the fence to enter and exit the property. The tiger saw that and used the cut fence to escape,” Mandy said.
The big cat was kept on the farm as a pet.
The striped and endangered big cats are not native to South Africa, but in recent years tiger breeding has become common in the country.
South Africa has no official count of its tiger population.
A report by global animal rights charity Four Paws showed that 359 tigers — almost a tenth of the world’s tiger population — were exported from South Africa from 2011-2020, most of them sold to zoos.
“It’s extremely dangerous and irresponsible to keep these animals in a residential area, and to keep wildlife in captivity,” said Keshvi Nair, spokeswoman for the National Council of Societies for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or NSPCA.
The incident comes just three days after officials in the U.S. said that a clouded leopard at the Dallas Zoo safely secured near her habitat early Friday evening, the zoo said, and no people or animals were hurt.her enclosure because it had been “intentionally” cut. She was
Agence France-Presse contributed to this report.