A gunman searches for Sheba, a tigress that escaped from her enclosure, near Johannesburg January 16, 2023. IHSAAN HAFFEJEE/VIA Portal
She was shot dead after being killed again: Sheba, a pet tigress who escaped her owner and roamed near Johannesburg for four days, was “eliminated” on Wednesday 18 January after another attack on a dog . “We had no choice but to eliminate her” because “she killed a dog on a farm where six families live” and “the danger had become too great,” said Mandy Gresham, a local community representative was involved in the investigation, told AFP.
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The 8-year-old Bengal tigress had already attacked a 39-year-old man on her way, who survived, killing other dogs and a deer. Several dozen police officers, conservationists and neighbors were looking for her with the help of drones and helicopters. The big cat had managed to get out of its enclosure on Saturday after an unidentified man cut through the fence of private property about twenty miles from Johannesburg, the economic capital in the country’s most populous province.
It’s illegal to keep a lion as a pet in South Africa, but tigers are allowed, much to the chagrin of animal rights groups, who are calling for new legislation. Legislation prohibits keeping native species; and the tiger, which is not endemic to South Africa, is considered an exotic animal. “Keeping a tiger as a pet is just animal cruelty,” Smaragda Louw, director of NGO Ban Animal Trading, told AFP.
Black market for hides and bones
In recent years, inland tiger farms have multiplied, fueling lucrative sales to zoos. But livestock also feeds the black market for skins and bones, which is particularly popular in Asia for luxury goods and traditional medicine, the NGOs denounce. “We are calling on the authorities to stop breeding tigers because if it were banned none of this would happen,” said Elize Parker of animal rights NGO Four Paws, regretting Sheba’s death.
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South Africa is also known for allowing controversial lion breeding to please wealthy trophy hunters. The country does not have an official census of its tiger population, but almost 10% of the world’s population (or 359 individuals) were exported from South Africa between 2011 and 2020, according to Four Paws.