By Hoandi !Gaeb Mariental – the wild animals that are roaming in the Fish River scaring Mariental residents, especially those fishing between the Hardap Dam and the devastated town for the past two weeks, are not lions. They are leopards, which escaped from either the Hardap Game Park or the commercial farmland near the town. For the past two weeks, it has been talk of the town at Mariental that four lions, which allegedly escaped from a popular game lodge in the area, are threatening the lives of residents. Some people even claimed they spotted the dangerous animals themselves. For a town that is still struggling to come to terms with devastation after flooding by Namibia’s biggest dam about six weeks ago, this is not a welcome development. The Fish River then virtually destroyed the entire business district of the town and insurance companies put the loss of property at about N$80 million. Some major shops are still not operational. The police in the Hardap Region confirmed to New Era over the weekend that they found footprints of some wild animals along the Fish River when they investigated rumours about the movement of lions along the river. “We handed over the matter to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism for further investigation.” An official of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism confirmed that they also received news of lions, which allegedly escaped from a local game park. “We have also been informed by the police and started investigations about two weeks ago.” However, he said the footprints that they have discovered were not those of lions, but of two leopards, which probably escaped from either the Hardap Game Park or commercial land near Mariental. “These are wild animals and it is difficult to control their movement,” he said. He also confirmed that they carried out investigations at the Game lodge where the “lions” allegedly escaped from, but all lions at the particular game farm were in safe custody. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism however cautioned residents, especially those who fish in the river between the town and the Hardap Dam to be on alert for the two leopards as they can also be dangerous. In a separate incident, the police confirmed that two people died of stab wounds in the Aimablaagte suburb of Mariental. They are Ronny Awaseb (29) and 32-year-old Paul Jacobs. The police have arrested two suspects in connection with the crimes.
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