An Organised Crime Investigation (OCI) was launched by detectives on Wednesday following a tip-off that a lion cub had been smuggled from Thabazimbi in Limpopo to the Western Cape.

Various addresses in the Athlone area were searched, according to SAPS spokesperson Noloyiso Rwexana, to find the little cub.

Eventually the cub was found at an Athlone address. Lion cubs have a high street value of roughly R50 000 per cub.

A case of possession of an endangered species was registered by the Stock Theft Unit and the lion cub was successfully recovered. It has since been taken to a safe place in good condition. Three people have been taken in for questioning in connection with the incident.

In South Africa, three animals in the cat family, namely, the cheetah, lion, and leopard, are categorised by the national biodiversity law as “vulnerable species”.  As a result, their possession in private homes is restricted and permits are required.

Lions are widely bred or kept for commercial purposes in the country with nearly 300 lion farms operational and thousands of lions living in captivity.

“Three people aged between 28 and 30  were taken in for questioning, investigation is ongoing,” said Rwexana.

Picture: Supplied

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