14 lions 'escaped' from South Africa's Kruger National Park were a 'false alarm'

The lions have lived in that area for years, officials said.

PRETORIA, South Africa -- A pride of 14 lions that were reported to have escaped from South Africa's Kruger National Park actually weren't from the park at all, officials said.

Residents of Phalaborwa, in the province of Limpopo, were warned last week to be on alert after the lions were spotted near a phosphate mine.

But after closer inspection, authorities found that the pride was not from Kruger, but had been living and hunting in the area for a considerable time. The lions now will be left undisturbed in their home territory.

The Limpopo Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism (LEDET) says the area where the lions were spotted is a well-known roaming area for various wildlife within the region.

Department spokesman Zaid Kalla told ABC News, "It was a false alarm. The lions were spotted when they started roaming to look for food, but they're still in the area they have been living in for at least the past two years."

Kalla says the animals will not be darted and moved, as was earlier planned.

"The animals will be kept within the area. The Department's role is to enforce control where human lives are threatened and the lions have not been of any threat to humans," he told ABC News, adding that several inhabitants have been interviewed and told officials they're aware the lions are living in the area.

"Co-habiting between wildlife and humans has always been monitored and well preserved by both LEDET and management of various facilities within the area," he explained.