A tiger was spotted in Edenvale on 30 January 2023.
- Police officers and SPCA officials raided the offices of a security company that claimed to have helped recapture a tiger that was on the loose in Edenvale, according to a source.
- The security company has refused to say where the tiger was taken to.
- The company, SOS Security, said the tiger had not been harmed in any way and that it was well cared for in its new environment.
The private security company that claims to have helped recapture a tiger in Edenvale has, so far, refused to provide evidence of the recapture, leading to a spat between the company and the Edenvale SPCA.
As a result, police raided the offices of the company – SOS Security – and several related premises on Wednesday.
In apparent response, SOS Security served the Edenvale SPCA with a lawyer’s letter, a reliable source told News24, although no further details were forthcoming.
Edenvale residents were captivated and frightened by the young male tiger that was on the loose earlier this week.
SOS Security claimed to have safely captured and relocated the animal and that it was taken to a sanctuary. However, the company did not reveal the name of the sanctuary. That led to suspicions that the company might have hidden the tiger or that it was protecting the owner of the wild animal.
As a result, SOS Security’s premises was raided.
Although there have been rumours about the tiger’s origin and ownership, nothing has been confirmed.
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A video showing tiger cubs playing with dogs on the property of local veterinarian Dr Shabeer Bhoola was circulated on social media, prompting many people to conclude that he was the owner. However, he denied ownership and claimed a neighbour had taken the video.
“Those tiger cubs came with me to the house, and we took some photos with the kids… That’s why the tigers were at my house, and that was it. They were there and they are gone,” Bhoola told News24.
Another image purporting to show the tiger’s recapture was debunked as a picture taken at a tiger rehoming event in 2021.
SOS Security had distributed the picture, but animal welfare organisation Four Paws said the picture belonged to it and that it had nothing to do with the tiger that was on the loose in Edenvale.
The organisation said in a statement to News24:
Four Paws in South Africa has been made aware that an image of a tiger relocation operation in Gqeberha in the Eastern [Cape] province, supplied by Four Paws to the media at the time in June 2021, has been used to falsely evidence that the tiger that escaped from a private property in Edenvale, has been darted and captured.
The ownership and whereabouts of the young tiger remain unclear, but SOS Security claimed on Facebook statement that their lack of information was to protect the animal.
It also criticised the raid but reassured the public that the tiger was well taken care of in its new location. It declined to provide further information and said that on the day the tiger was reported missing, their offices “reported seeing various gun-toting individuals scouring the area in search of it, including at least one professional hunter.
“Soon a throng of people descended on the area where they believed the tiger was trying to take refuge.
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“It soon became apparent that the people were ill-equipped and untrained to handle a situation like this, including even an inspector from the SPCA who arrived with nothing more than a two-way radio.
“Due to the volatility of the situation and the danger of harm it posed to the tiger, the decision was made that an experienced veterinarian would immediately come and sedate the tiger so that a team could relocate the sedated cat to a safe and secure location.
“The operation was carried out with the utmost professionalism and without any adverse effects to the tiger, which was successfully transported to a safe location where it immediately started roaming about as soon as it woke up.
“As we are not at liberty to disclose any personal information concerning our clients, we did not release the names of our clients and, in compliance with [the Protection of Personal Information Act], will continue to refrain from disclosing personal information of our clients.
“We hereby assure the public that the tiger had not been harmed in any manner and that it is well cared for in its new environment.”
Gary Wilson of SOS Security refused to confirm that a lawyer’s letter was served on the SPCA, and would not answer any questions News24 put to him about the animal’s well-being or whereabouts.