Was killing 'Mohawk' the lion the only solution?

Early this year, two lions were reported to have left the Nairobi National Park. They caused consternation on Langata road and later wandered into a nearby housing estate in Lang’ata, where terrified residents were forced to remain indoors for their own safety.

Later, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers captured the lions.

A few weeks later, another lion strayed out of the park and onto the busy Mombasa Road, where it attacked and seriously injured a man.

So far, no plausible explanation has been forthcoming as to why the lions had strayed out of the park.

In the absence of that, it is easy to conclude that this was negligence; even dereliction of duty on the part of KWS.

This has endangered the lives of Nairobi residents, especially in residential areas around the only national park situated within a city.

On Wednesday, as if to prove KWS was sleeping on the job, another lion that has acquired the nickname ‘Mohawk’, escaped from the park and walked into Isinya town, 12km away.

The ease with which the lions are leaving the park is alarming.

Easy Way Out

The tragedy, however, is that KWS rangers ended up killing Mohawk.

An alarm raised by the public led the police to call in KWS.

If the easy way out was killing the lion, the police would have done it, but they had the presence of mind to call in the rangers, whom they knew had the relevant training to sedate the animal and take it back to its natural habitat.

But, alas, rangers sent by the KWS had other ideas.

They did not come with tranquilisers or a cage to carry the lion back to the park.

Instead, they opened fire and needlessly expended at least 20 bullets to kill a single lion where a dart would have sufficed.

Is that the new policy in dealing with stray animals?

If the rangers were acting on instructions, whoever gave that order owes Kenyans an explanation.

But even as that is sought, the need to minimise human-wildlife conflict is more apparent now than ever before.