What actually does...?: Supposed lioness in Berlin: This is how wildlife expert Derk Ehlert looks back on the search

This summer, a suspected escaped lioness in Berlin and Brandenburg caused public excitement for a day and a half.

What actually does...?: Supposed lioness in Berlin: This is how wildlife expert Derk Ehlert looks back on the search

This summer, a suspected escaped lioness in Berlin and Brandenburg caused public excitement for a day and a half. When did your cell phone ring for the first time? On the night of July 19th to 20th, I received the first call at two o'clock. At first it wasn't unusual: I regularly get calls at night, for example in the event of traffic accidents involving wild animals. This time the police asked me for administrative assistance and to provide people with special rifles to search for a large predator. I arranged for an expert with the necessary stun gun and lay down again - until the next call three hours later. I was asked if I knew other people to support me because a lioness was possibly moving from Kleinmachnow in Brandenburg towards Berlin.

Did you go out yourself? The police were well positioned, numbering a hundred. In addition, investigations are already underway with experts and wildlife biologists who study the behavior of lions. So I didn't have to actively support the search, but I did watch a video that had been taken that night.

They expressed doubts early on. Your first thought when you saw the footage? I thought to myself, when will the lioness finally come into the picture? I only recognized two wild boars. The appearance of the tail, the movements and the position of the back clearly did not indicate a predatory cat to me.

After the video evaluation and the laboratory results of the feces and hair samples, the all-clear came: the lioness actually turned out to be a wild boar. We were already prepared to increase the search density and had a hunter team with additional rifles and fishing gear on standby in case the lioness moved away from the Berlin south on the way to the center.

Did you smile after the resolution? You have to take every clue seriously. Of course I believed the police and witnesses who had seen such an animal. The only thing that bothered me was that there were no lion paw prints where it was spotted.

From the night of Wednesday, July 19th, to Thursday until Friday afternoon, July 21st, 2023, a search was carried out in Berlin and Brandenburg for a supposed lioness. Dozens of police officers, hunters and veterinarians were on duty. A DNA analysis and the analysis of a video revealed that it was a wild boar instead. Ehlert, a wildlife consultant and nature expert for the city of Berlin, supported the search operation. He has been employed by the Senate Administration since 2001 and is a lecturer at the adult education center.

What other exotic animals have you come across? Kangaroos, crocodiles, poisonous snakes and all the other creatures that people keep at home will eventually be outside too - if they escape. The largest animal was an elephant on Jakob-Kaiser-Platz that had escaped from a circus. The thing that occupied me for the longest time was a serval, a medium-sized big cat that roamed freely in Berlin for a year and a half.

Do you have an office in the Berlin Senate Administration, or do you only work outside? I'm mostly outdoors in the morning and evening. In between, I use my desk to answer inquiries and provide educational work. City dwellers need to know what they should do if they encounter a marten in their garage. I explain to mothers who are afraid for their children because they see a fox with foam at the mouth on the playground that the fox is not immediately rabid, but is in the bag in the winter, for example, looking for one partner.

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