Lion that strayed into busy city road driven back to park

Saturday March 19 2016

An elderly man was clawed by a lion as it wandered on Mombasa road on March 18, 2016. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

An elderly man was clawed by a lion as it wandered on Mombasa road on March 18, 2016. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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A stray lion spotted on Mombasa Road on Friday morning was driven back to the Nairobi National Park two and a half hours later, as a man it had injured was taken to hospital.

The elderly man was clawed by the lion as it wandered on the busy highway early in the morning, sending panic among Nairobi residents.

The Kenya Wildlife Service communication spokesperson, Mr Paul Udoto, said the 63-year-old man was in a stable condition at The Mater Hospital, in nearby South B Estate.

“The lion may have been disturbed by the commotion at a construction site inside the park and made its way out,” said Mr Udoto. “It was provoked by people hooting and taking pictures.”

KWS sent three units to hunt down the lion after it was spotted at around 7am.

“There is still a unit on the ground trying to see if there is another, or other, stray lions,” Mr Udoto added. “We urge the public to report to the police or KWS if they see them.”

This is the fourth time in less than a month that lions and lionesses have been spotted outside the national park, which is adjacent to the city.

The big cats have on two occasions mauled domestic animals from nearby residential areas.

In the first incident when three lionesses strayed, KWS, through its head of communications, said the big cats were protecting their cubs by moving them out of the pride in the park.

Two days later, a man reported at the Lang'ata Police Station that two lions had mauled his three goats at a neighbouring estate. On Wednesday night, another flock was killed by lions in in the same area.

Mr Udoto said there were about 35 lions in the park.

“I cannot tell you the exact figure because KWS cannot ascertain the population of wild animals that freely move in the 117-square kilometre park,” he said. “It is hard to conduct a headcount of animals in the entire park without making errors.”

The KWS assistant director in charge of the southern conservation area, Mr Julius Cheptei, said it is common for wild animals to move from one place to another.

He cited population increase in Nairobi that has seen people settle on areas that were traditionally wildlife dispersal areas as one of the main reasons for the human-wildlife conflict.

Mr Cheptei advised people not to crowd, make noise or throw objects at wild animals in the event they spot them out of the sanctuary.

He said increased construction activities near the park had blocked animal migration routes.