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Last Updated: Monday, 24 February, 2003, 13:59 GMT
Malawi's killer lion shot dead
By Raphael Tenthani
BBC, Lilongwe

Four game hunters have killed a marauding lion some two months after it broke free from a game park, killing up to seven people.

 killer lion
It took eight people to lift the lion
The carcass of the bullet-riddled lion is currently on display at the nature sanctuary here in the capital, Lilongwe, and has been the centre of attraction the whole weekend.

Harrison Phula, one of the four hunters that successfully stalked the ageing and hungry lion, told journalists on Monday it was not an easy task to overpower the lion.

He said it took a total of four bullets to kill the animal but even after stopping the first two bullets in its belly, the beast still charged at the hunters, injuring two of them.

"With intestines coming out of its belly the lion lunged at two of us injuring one in the leg and crashing an arm of the other," he said.

The two injured hunters are currently in hospital in the northern central district of Kasungu, where the lion was shot.

Loose pride

Scratches still showing on his arms, face and legs, Mr Phula said when the two remaining hunters saw their friends were in danger, they pumped two more bullets into the lion and physically struggled with it until it died.

"We fought with it until it died," he said.

"Maybe we succeeded because of the intestines that were coming out. The good thing is that we fought with it and that our friends did not die."

The hunter said the fully grown lion, which is guessed to be between eight and 10 years old, was so heavy that eight people could not manage to lift it into a truck.

However, if the beleaguered people of Kasungu, Nkhota Kota and Mzimba thought life was now back to normal with the death of the notorious beast, they may have another thing coming.

Assistant Director of Parks and Wildlife Hackswell Jamusana said a pride of three more lions has also broken free from Kasungu National Park and are lurking somewhere in the bushes around the three districts.

Mr Jamusana, however, said the people living around the national park have unwittingly brought the lion menace onto their own doorsteps.

"People vandalised the entire 110 kilometres of electric fence along the eastern boundary of the park which used to prevent animals from getting out of the park to human settlement," he said.

Over the years, heavy poaching has led to a decline in the numbers of small game such as deer and impalas, which the lions normally eat, he said.

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