(Recasts with lions captured, new quotes)
JOHANNESBURG, May 9 (Reuters) - Four out of five lions that escaped from South Africa’s main national park this week have been captured, the South African National Parks (SANParks) organisation said on Tuesday.
The animals broke free from Kruger park on Monday morning close to Komatipoort, a town of 5,000 people, prompting a search by armed wildlife rangers and police who, using helicopters and tranquilliser guns, managed to dart and snare four of the lions.
The search will continue for the fifth escaped lion, with rangers remaining in the area overnight.
“Lions are nocturnal animals so it will go out to look for its mates and that will give them an opportunity to recapture it,” said SANParks spokesman Isaac Phaahla.
The area around Kruger - one of the country’s main tourist attractions - contains villages and farms that also raise cattle, putting livestock as well as people at risk of attack.
In 2015, a lion named Sylvester crawled under an electric fence at another park and went on a three-week, sheep-killing spree before he was caught by rangers while taking a nap.
South Africa contains its big, dangerous wildlife in fenced reserves while other African states lack the resources for fencing or capture operations, meaning that lions and other alpha animals frequently stray outside the boundaries of protected areas. (Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg and Ed Stoddard; Editing by James Macharia/Mark Heinrich)