Mohawk, a lion from Nairobi National Park was brutally shot yesterday by Kenya Wildlife Service rangers in a horrific scene.
Mohawk had recently escaped from the park days before the incident – the third time an incident of this nature has been recorded in the last two months. The park is not entirely fenced to enable traditional migration by animals in search of grazing, however the population around Nairobi National Park has grown more than tenfold since its establishment in 1946 with residential suburbs, farms and commercial buildings situated just outside the park where grazing land used to be. Conservationists say lions lived there before people in the area and are not ‘escaping’ the park nor ‘straying’ into human settlements, rather people have moved into the lions’ habitat.
A mob of over 400 locals had surrounded the lion in the town of Isinya, about 35km from the Kenyan capital city of Nairobi. The locals taunted the lion, throwing rocks at him and the lion lashed out, striking a 27-year-old man on a motorcycle, who sustained bruises and deep lacerations on his back.
The first animal management team that arrived had no tranquilizers and had to wait for a second team from Nairobi that were on their way with tranquilizers, however the first team killed the animal, saying that the lion posed an immediate threat to human life. “It had injured somebody. There was a crowd that had formed around it, so it was practically impossible to capture it the way we planned to. When it injured that person, it became imminent to us that it could lead to a worse situation and it had to be brought down,” said Kenya Wildlife Service spokesman Paul Udoto.
“The mob had formed and in the process somebody got injured, and by the time the veterinary and security teams got to the ground it was already beyond salvation. With that commotion we risked more injuries or even possible deaths,” he said.
The lion was named Mohawk due to the style of his mane and was well known to tourists and locals alike. “We lost one of our best lions,” said Nelly Palmeris, a senior park warden at Nairobi National Park. The lion carcass has since been disposed of in Nairobi National Park.
The incident has caused ripples of outraged through Kenya and the world. “I am outraged, disgusted and grossly disappointed with Kenya Wildlife Services,” Aisha Tande, a Nairobi resident, tweeted. Another Nairobi resident took to Twitter saying, “Some fools killed a lion by the name Mohawk today here in Nairobi. It’s crazy to think about it even for a second.”
Through various tweets, the Kenya Wildlife Service issued the following statement concerning the incident, “KWS veterinary and security teams had gone to capture a lion in Isinya but it was killed after the public confronted it resulting in the injury. A lion was this morning put down by Kenya Wildlife Service rangers to avert injuries or at worst, deaths to members of the public. This action was taken as a last resort after an escalation of the situation, and a concern for public safety. At 8am today (30 March 2016), a team of KWS rangers from the Kajiado Station was deployed to Isinya Township after being alerted to the presence of a lion. The team guarded it while waiting for the veterinary and capture team from Nairobi who were dispatched at around 9.30am. At about 10.30am members of the public had surrounded the area where the lion was, about 7km from Isinya Town, on the Isinya-Kiserian road. This brought about a visible agitation in the lion due to the rowdiness and size of the crowd. The lion, identified as predominant male Mohawk, had been involved in territorial fights in the last couple of weeks. He was aged 13 and was born in Nairobi National Park. Isinya, 30-40km south of the park (free of fencing), is part of the seasonal migration area and Mohawk was trying to establish new territory. We wish to assure the public that we remain true and committed to serving and protecting our wildlife resources. Our number one focus has and will always be conserving our wildlife for Kenyans and the world as a whole.”
Posted by Mombasa County Government Watch on Wednesday, 30 March 2016
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