KWS to translocate lions in Nairobi park to reduce conflict
04 April 2016, 08:09
Nairobi - Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said on Friday half the population of lions in the Nairobi National Park will be translocated to other wildlife sanctuaries to help reduce human-wildlife conflict.
KWS Director General, Kitili Mbathi said the carrying capacity of the park is high and cannot accommodate the lion population in the safe haven, which currently stands at about 40, forcing them to move out to hunt their prey.
"The dispersal route of the animals from the park has been encroached by human settlement and when the big cats move out in search of food, they encounter humans who occasionally kill them, especially after the lions kill their livestock," he told journalists in Nairobi.
Mbathi's remarks came in the wake of the shooting by wildlife rangers of a lion known as "Mohawk" that strayed out of the park and attacked a man Wednesday.
Another lion was speared to death by communities living near the park on Thursday evening.
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The killing of "Mohawk" by KWS rangers, charged with protection of the animals, caused an outrage among Kenyans after its slaughter went viral on social media, with conservationists calling for action to be taken against those who authorized the action instead of sedating the animal and taking it back to its habitat.
The Head of Veterinary Services at KWS, Dr. Francis Gakuya, said his team could not reach the lion on time and tranquilize it because they got stuck in the mud three kilometers away for 45 minutes.
"The law requires that sedation of an animal must be done by a qualified veterinary surgeon. By the time we arrived, the advance team that we sent as the first frontline of action found that the animal had been agitated enough and turned aggressive hence the shooting," Gakuya said.
Mbathi said once a male lion reaches of age, they crave to mark their territory and start a family.
"Most of the lions that have strayed out of the park of late are male, indicating that they face serious territorial competition from others and opt to look for own space," he pointed out.
"The killing is highly regrettable, but it is also a lesson to Kenyans not to agitate and taunt stray lions because doing that causes them stress, which makes them aggressive and hence dangerous," Mbathi said.
He appealed to Kenyans who might spot a lion outside any sanctuary anywhere in the country to inform KWS, adding that lions are usually calm animals and when not agitated, do not harm humans and will eventually find their way back.