A South African lion called Sylvester who has become quite famous for breaking out of a national park twice will be rehoused rather than put down, and encouraged to become an alpha male.
Named Sylvester, the lion earned the nickname Spook — Ghost in the Afrikaans language — after escaping from the park and eluding searchers for more than three weeks in 2015. He was captured in a search that cost more than R500,000 before escaping again in March.
The South African National Parks Tuesday said the lion will be relocated to the vast Addo Elephant National Park, hoping it will bond with two young female lions in an enclosure.
Last June, Sylvester went on a three-week sheep-killing spree, wandering 300km (180 miles) before he was found taking a nap by rangers and airlifted from the Nuweveld Mountains.
When he was found he was fitted with a tracking collar.
The second time he escaped, rescuers followed the signal from his collar to find him high up in the mountains in Western Cape again.
He was tranquilised and airlifted by helicopter, an operation the park authorities captured on video.
He had been away for four days.
Karoo national park authorities had originally considered putting Sylvester down but will now rehouse the animal away from male competition. The lion’s plight was highlighted in a Twitter campaign in South Africa.
Sylvester escaped at the end of March by crawling under an electric fence after heavy rain dislodged earth, a park spokesperson said at the time. It is thought three-year-old Sylvester was running away from threatening older males.
The move will establish him as the dominant male, said Fundisile Mketeni, CEO of South Africa National Parks.
“There is always a risk that this lion may break out again but this will be mitigated to a large extent by reducing any potential conflict with other males,” Mr Mketeni added.