THE International Traditional Healers’ Association (ITA) representative in Zimbabwe David Muhabhinyane Ngwenya yesterday warned authorities and members of the public to leave the mysterious lion which has reportedly been spotted in some parts of Bulawayo, as long as it has not harmed anyone.

Ngwenya said the lion might be a spirit visiting King Mzilikazi and Lobengula’s territory and hunting it down would end up causing problems for people.

Ngwenya, a traditional healer residing in Gwabalanda, Bulawayo, said it was worrying to think that a real lion which had been seen by people had still not been captured or spotted by the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (Zimparks) more than three weeks later.

The lion has been on the loose since the end of April and it is still not clear where it came from. The Chipangali Wildlife orphanage has dismissed suspicions that the cat could have escaped from them saying they have all their lions.

Ngwenya said a lion that has not been seen or killed anything for food cannot be a real lion.

“It has something to do with traditional culture. It is a mirage (lilinda leli). It is a lion for the kings showing that the ancestral spirits are visiting the land and they must not trouble it or bother looking for it, otherwise it will cause us some problems,” said Ngwenya.

He said if it was a real lion, it would have caused a lot of damage by now.

“Look at the time it has taken for them to find it. It shows that it cannot be a real animal. They have taken about three weeks looking for it; they must forget about it,” Ngwenya said.

Zimparks southern regional manager Arthur Musakwa said they were maintaining a presence on the ground through the leads they got, but had not yielded anything.

“A lone lion generally would not stay in a place for a long time. Lions stray, but do not travel alone. They seek companionship. We have also not received any reports where animals have been killed by the lion,” Musakwa said.

The hunting team went to Burnside, Waterford, Douglasdale and Hope Fountain asking members of the community if they had spotted the lion.

Members of the public gave conflicting accounts of where the lion had been seen, but no spoor could be located.

Zimparks also said lions generally follow a straight line and prefer open places where they can see things from a long distance and hence their hunt for beasts along the open pathways and roads.

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