By Jude Titus
A stray lion has been shot dead after it became violent and attacked a motorcyclist today [Wednesday] in Isinya, Kajiado County.
The lion was shot at least six times by the Kenya Wildlife Service [KWS] Rangers- a move that the officers said had to be drastically taken.
The lion is believed to have strayed from Nairobi National Park on Tuesday night and was seen along Isinya in Kajiado County.
The Kenya Wildlife Service delegated the search to two teams to ensure it was caught quickly enough before it attacked anyone.
The killing quickly created an uproar on social media where Kenyans criticized the move by the KWS officers calling it ‘unprofessional’. Majority indicated that the officers should have tranquilized the animal first and taken it back to its habitat.
Head of Corporate Communications at KWS, Paul Masela Gathitu indicated that they will still probe the circumstances under which the big cat was shot.
He said that the lion was agitated by the shouting crowds that had gathered to see it and in the process pounced on one onlooker.
‘‘A team from our branch in Kitengela and one that specializes in translocation at the KWS headquarters had been sent to trace the lion,’’ indicated Mr. Gathitu.
The injured motorcyclist was rushed to a health facility and is said to be in a stable condition.
This is not the first incident where lions have escaped from the Nairobi National Park. Just a few weeks ago, a lion was seen along Mombasa road, at City Cabanas but was taken back by the KWS. Also recently, the Kenya Wildlife Services dispatched a team of rangers to track six lions that were on the loose. The loose big cats caused panic around Langata and along the Southern bypass. A lioness and her newborn cubs were said to be among the pride.
In 2012 a similar incident happened when a lioness strayed from the Nairobi National Park into the Karen/Langata neighbourhood but the people were relieved after it was killed. The lioness was a regular visitor to the Mukoma road where she scared residents.
The lion is the second-largest living cat after the tiger and a vulnerable species, having seen a major population decline in its African range of 30-50 percent per two decades during the second half of the 20th century.
Nairobi National Park was established in 1946 and is located approximately seven kilometers south of the center of Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city. The proximity of urban and natural environments has for many years caused conflicts between local people and the wild animals.