The management of the Jos Wide Life Park in Plateau State, Nigeria, has said that it invited troops to kill an escapee 43-year-old lion because it has no tranquilisers with which it could have sedated the animal. The lion had strayed away after escaping from its cage.
John Doy, General Manager of the Park, said the organisation lacked tranquilisers because it has no license to pick up the drug from drug stores.
He said: “We don’t have tranquilisers. We don’t have the licence to buy tranquilisers. We applied for licence, but we were not given. So, instead of allowing the animal to devour people, we had to invite the STF (Special Task Force) to do away with it.”
He said 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 the agency had denied the park the document.
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, Doy added.
The lion escaped into the perimeters of the unfenced park along Joseph Gomwalk Way when attendants opened its cage at about past 8am on Wednesday to feed it and its mate, a lioness.
The park is tucked in-between 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 offices including the Nigerian Union of Journalists (NUJ), the headquarters of the Church of God in Nigeria (COCIN), and the Jos office of MTN. There are government residential areas all around the park.
It was shot dead at about past 2pm, about seven hours after it escaped from its cage, the manager said, disclosing that the animal was already showing signs of aggression at the time the troops took position around the perimeters of the park where it was sighted.
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.
He declined giving details including how many shots must have been fired, but he said the lion has a bullet injury on its chest.
In a reaction, Mr Ikechi Uko, a tourism communications practitioner, said: “That lion is the only lion in the once popular Jos wildlife park. The lion escaped some days ago from the badly managed park and was executed by Nigerian Police and Civil Defence operatives. Now these guys are celebrating their feat of killing a lion, but for me it’s a huge loss. I feel a connection to the dead lion. Slowly, we are officially wiping away the small tourism gains we all fought for over the years. Nigerian tourism is in reversal right now. Too bad.”