TIGERS NEXT DOOR!
YOU South Africa|21 October 2021
Impala Park residents say they are living in fear after two big cats moved into the area
SIPHOKAZI ZAMA

WHEN she saw the big cat staring at her over her neighbor’s fence, she thought she must be dreaming.

Impala Park is a middle-class area in Boksburg, Gauteng, filled with tree-lined streets and suburban homes. It’s the last place you’d expect to find tigers – yet this is exactly what Dari Viljoen* found herself looking at.

Dari, who runs a crèche next door, couldn’t believe her eyes. “I saw the head move and realized I was looking at the real thing,” she says.

She immediately approached the neighbor, Anneline Kruger, to enquire about the animals. “I said to her, ‘I’ve got a problem – I saw your tiger and I’ve got a school running in the back. Your tiger is going to jump over the wall’.

“She said it wouldn’t. But I’m worried –I have small children whose lives depend on me and I can’t allow them to get hurt on my watch.”

Terrified the tigers would harm the kids, Dari called everyone she could think of, from the SPCA to the City of Ekurhuleni and animal welfare organizations. Their response was the same: her neighbours weren’t breaking any laws and are legally permitted to keep the tigers in their backyard.

Anneline and her husband, Mathew, keep several animals on their property, including a miniature horse, a dog and a few monkeys. They recently acquired the two Siberian tigers and their social media pages have many pictures of the animals, playing on a jungle gym in their yard, drinking from a plastic pool, going for walks and lying on a bed inside the house.

The couple have erected a wire fence between their house and the crèche but Dari says the fence isn’t high enough to keep the tigers safely enclosed. She points out that there are schools, an old-age home and a shopping centre nearby. “If those tigers get out the whole community will be affected,” she says.

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