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Friday, 24 January, 2003, 13:56 GMT
Drought drives on Malawi's killer lions
Lioness in Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Drought has led the lions to seek alternative prey
A pride of lions terrorising people in central Malawi have killed four people, bringing to nine the total number they have killed since Christmas.

They are said to be seeking alternative food sources because of the toll the drought in the region is having on wildlife.

Efforts to contain the lions since they escaped from a game park are proving futile.

Police spokesman George Chikowi said the hunt for the lions was still on, when he confirmed the death of the latest victims.

"Game rangers, armed with guns, have been deployed to the area," he said.

Fear

A senior government official in the district, Charles Kaliwo, said when game rangers were alerted to news of the latest victims on Thursday night they could only find the leg of one of the victims and four pools of blood.

A trail of blood led into the bushes.

Local resident John Banda told me the lions attacks had been taking place both during the day and at night.

He said people were so afraid that agricultural activities were becoming seriously disrupted.

He added that advice not to wander about alone did not seem to be working.

"It is not helping any more to move in groups since the lions do not seem to fear groups," he said.

Wildlife officials believe the lions went astray from Kasungu National Park and Nkhota Kota Game Reserve following the theft of protective wire fences by local residents.

They also believe the beasts had run out of food in both the park and the game reserve since the current drought has made grazing grass scarce, forcing small animals like deer and gazelles - the lions' natural prey - to migrate further afield.

The lions' alternative is to hunt humans and their docile livestock.


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31 Oct 01 | Africa
07 Jan 02 | Africa
23 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
03 Aug 02 | Africa
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