Officials in South Africa say three lions that escaped from the country's biggest wildlife park have been shot and killed.

The national parks service said Friday that a farmer near Kruger National Park killed one lion and wounded another after a cow carcass was found on his farm.

It says park staff in a helicopter located the remaining lions and decided to kill them rather than dart and return them to the park as originally hoped.

Officials say the uninjured lion had to be killed partly because lions that eat cattle develop a taste for livestock and could pose a bigger threat to humans.

TimesLIVE, a news website, quotes parks spokeswoman Janine Raftopoulos as saying three lions had escaped Sunday, not four as previously thought.