Monday, August 2, 2010

Grrr! Give way to the lions

An lion takes a nap at the Nairobi National Parks Safari Walk. Homeowners around the Nairobi National Park will have to contend with hungry lions or an angry law that will require most to give way to the animals. PHOTO/ FILE

An lion takes a nap at the Nairobi National Parks Safari Walk. Homeowners around the Nairobi National Park will have to contend with hungry lions or an angry law that will require most to give way to the animals. PHOTO/ FILE 

By GATONYE GATHURA ggathura@ke.nationmedia.com

Homeowners around the Nairobi National Park will have to contend with hungry lions or an angry law that will require most to give way to the animals.

Responding to a plea by a resident of Ongata Rongai, Mr C. Karanja, who on Wednesday told of how he had to open his gate in the company of three wild lions, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has absolved the animals of any blame.

In a plea to the Nation’s Cutting Edge column, Mr Karanja told of lions standing majestically at his gate along Rimpa Road.

“I had heard stories of lions roaming in the area but dismissed them as mere sensationalism. But at 11pm, the animals were there. I approached them with my car full lights on and they merely walked away. You can imagine how difficult opening my gate was. I wonder why the KWS can’t remove them. I hope they are not waiting for somebody to become a meal before they act.”

However, Mr Paul Udoto, the corporate communications manager at KWS, blamed home owners who may have fenced off the animal’s dispersal areas.

“We would not want to see any loss of human life but if we are to protect the dwindling lion population, we must give them their right to hunt,” Mr Udoto told the Nation.

He added: “Building new homes in these areas will only escalate the wildlife/human conflict while turning the park into a zoo.”

And the lions may soon have their way when the proposed Draft Wildlife (Conservation and Management) Bill 2009 becomes law.

Among others, the Bill requires that people who have put up buildings on animal migratory corridors vacate the land.

The Bill seeks radical reforms to reclaim former wildlife habitats that have been subdivided and sold to individuals.

Mr Karanja may never really know why the lions did not maul him, but experts say full lights disorient animals, a phenomenon they call light pollution.

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