NGTrends yesterday reported that there was panic in the Plateau State capital when the 43-year-old beast escaped from its cage at the unfenced park, when it was being fed.
The decision by management of the Jos Wild Life Park to kill the Lion came as a surprise to many because it was expected that the animal could have been easily tranquilized by park rangers, recaptured and returned back to its cage, in line with global standards.
This is even more shocking when one considers the fact that the West African Lion is on the verge of extinction with as few as 34 left in the whole of Nigeria, according to experts from conservation group, LionAid.
Explaining the reason behind its invitation to soldiers of the Special Task Force, STF, to help kill the Lion, the General Manager of the Park, Mr. John Doy, said the Jos Wild Life Park had no tranquilizers.
“We don’t have tranquilizers. We don’t have the licence to buy tranquilizers. We applied for licence, but we were not given”, he said. “So instead of allowing the animal to devour people, we had to invite the STF (Special Task Force) to do away with it”.
He added that the Park needed to fulfil certain conditions to pick the special drug from chemical stores, one of which is a licence from the National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC).
But he said NAFDAC had denied the park the document.
It was gathered that the Lion, which was given birth to, in that cage at the Jos Park, was stepping out of its confinement for the first time since 1972.
The unfenced park, located along Joseph Gomwolk Way is surrounded by many establishments including the Jos branch of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); the state High Court, and the state Police Command Headquarters and its’ barracks, as well as various big offices including the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), the headquarters of the Church of God in Nigeria (COCIN), and the Jos office of the MTN.
The park is also surrounded by government residential areas.
Disclosing how the Lion was killed, the manager said it was shot dead at about past 2pm, about seven hours after it escaped from its cage.
He noted that the animal was already showing signs of aggression at the time the troops took position around the perimeters of the park when they sighted it.
Doy said the Lion attacked and killed a goat which was straying not too far off from its cage upon escaping the confinement, and was returning back to its cage, “possibly to go drink water”, when a soldier opened fire.
“The animal was actually returning to its cage after it attacked and ate up a goat not too far off from its cage. You know it was born there, so that cage has become its habitat, and it is not used to any other place. So it was actually heading back to the cage, maybe to drink water, or meet the lioness. Maybe the soldier; you know, from fear, decided to shoot at the animal we can’t say”, he said.
“But the animal was not dead at that time; it had to run away. It was at about past 2pm that it was killed”, he said.