Cape Nature has been blasted for ending the life of young Simba, the lion cub that formed part of an active smuggling investigation.
Questions remain on how Simba got to Cape Town
Simba was rescued in August. An operation led by the Hawks’ stock theft unit tracked the lion cub down to find him at a residence in Athlone which is linked to one of Najwa Petersen’s sons.
The three suspects – Sulaiman Effendi, Shurud Jacobs and Moegamat Simons – have been charged with the illegal possession of an endangered species, and their case is ongoing at the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court.
The key aspect of the stock theft unit’s investigation is finding out how Simba, a captive-bred lion cub from Thabazimbi, Limpopo, made it to Cape Town.
Why did Cape Nature end the lion cub’s life?
On the same day Simba was rescued, the police issued a statement, noting that the lion cub “was taken to a place of safety”. As per the protocol in cases involving the confiscation of endangered species, the animal was handed over to the conservation organisation Cape Nature.
In normal circumstances, Cape Nature is guided by certain policies in its handling of endangered spieces — the rarest option being to put down the animal. This is especially the case if the animal is part of an active investigation and was rescued in good health.
Simon Bloch, an investigative journalist from Durban, was intrigued by Simba’s story and not having heard not heard a whisper from Cape Nature about the cub’s condition, he went looking for answers.
Much to his shock and dismay, Bloch was informed that Simba had been put down for no apparent reason.
“A reliable source mentioned to me that Simba had been ‘put down’ by a vet in Wellington back in August, possibly on the same day (21 August) he was handed to Cape Nature for safe-keeping,” Bloch wrote in a Facebook post.
He also discovered that there may have been a breach in conduct by Cape Nature in the way that Simba was handled,and consequently, a police investigation has been launched against the organisation.
“SAPS confirmed a case was opened at Wellington SAPS under the charge of ‘without reasonable cause administers to any animal any poisonous or injuries (sic) drug or substance’. The case docket is still under investigation,” he stated.
Cape Nature permit head Deon Hignett has been reluctant to speak to the media, citing that the details of Simba’s passing are part of an active investigation.
“Cape Nature has taken the decision to not provide media comments at this stage given the sensitive nature of the case and the ongoing investigation. All journalists are encouraged to attend court proceedings for further information.”