THE Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (Zimparks) has increased manpower to hunt a mystery lion that has for the past weeks been roaming different parts of Bulawayo’s eastern suburbs and surrounding areas.
The increase in manpower hunting the lion follows the spotting of the big cat’s spoor at Criterion Farm in Douglasdale on Sunday.
Zimparks spokesperson Caroline Washaya-Moyo yesterday told Southern Eye that nine rangers, including a professional hunter, were now on the ground pursuing the adult lion.
“What we have now is that spoor was spotted at Criterion Farm? From the spoor, it was determined that the lion is an adult,” Washaya-Moyo said.
“We have called for extra manpower from the Hwange National Park.
“As it is, we have a team of nine on the ground that includes a professional hunter.”
There has been growing speculation among Bulawayo residents that there are possibly two lions on the loose, but Washaya-Moyo said evidence on the ground so far suggested there was only one.
“The spoor that was spotted was for one lion. However, we are not turning away any information from members of the public,” she said.
Bulawayo residents are now living in fear of possible attack from the lion.
Habakkuk Trust chief executive officer Dumisani Nkomo posted on his Facebook wall: “Maybe I am paranoid, but surely there should be an official response or information about the lion or we are waiting for it to maul somebody.
“In the absence of information, rumours abound or do they think it will cause alarm and despondency? The problem is that there is already fear, alarm and despondency because there are now all sorts of stories with some saying there is more than one lion, others saying some people could have been attacked and others saying it’s now in Hillside, Matsheumhlophe and Leeside.”
However, some residents of Burnside who spoke to Southern Eye yesterday gave conflicting details about the lion.
“We heard that it was seen along Bulawayo Road, but it’s all just stories,” James Jubane said.
“Some are saying one resident saw it and chased it away with a catapult yet some say they saw lion droppings just next to Bulawayo Road.
“The stories are just too many now and it’s confusing.”
A Southern Eye news crew drove along Bulawayo Road and saw residents walking freely without any sign of fear.
“What we heard is that it was seen in Waterford. We have not heard that it has come to this side.
“I doubt if it is in this area,” said a worker in one of the plots in Douglasdale.
The lion has been on the loose since the end of last month and it is still not clear where it came from. The Chipangali Wildlife orphanage has dismissed suspicions that the cat could have escaped from there saying all their lions are accounted for.
There have also been no reports of an attack by the lion on people.