When foreigners meet an African many of them can’t help but ask if lions roam the streets in Africa. Usually, a question like this is greeted with a polite chuckle and an explanation that our continent is actually quite developed. However, if any Kenyans were asked that question in February, they would have had to answer a simple ‘Yes’.
Late February saw several lions escape from the Nairobi National Park and wander into the city itself. As things stand, a lioness and two cubs have been recaptured and returned to the park, and another couple of the cats are believed to have found their own way home – just like many lost cats manage to do. However, without official numbers detailing how many lions escaped, it is difficult to tell if the returned animals are the extent of the escapees.
With such uncertainty, the citizens of Nairobi have been put on alert. A free telephone line has been dedicated to the event and residents are urged to phone in reports if they spot any large roaming cats in the city. Furthermore, spokesman for the Kenya Wildlife Service, Paul Udoto, has taken to Twitter to try to raise awareness of the danger of these animals. In a tweet, Udoto warned people not to confront the lions if they spot them, reminding them that lions are wild and dangerous.
Uproar over Loose Lions
Though the centre of Nairobi is located close to the park, a local slum located outside of the city is even closer. Residents of the Kibera slum are thus at more risk due to their close proximity. This has led these residents to lash out at the relevant authorities for not taking quicker and more determined action with regards to finding any loose lions and returning them to the park.
The fact that there have been reports of two lions being spotted not far from the slum has not changed the official plan of action. Wildlife officials are busy counting the number of lions inside the park before dedicating efforts to combing the surrounding area for any large cats.
However, this seems unlikely to return concrete results as the number of lions in the park is only an estimate, and is believed to be around thirty in the park’s 117 square kilometres. But, without a solid number, officials will have a difficult job of verifying that all of the park’s cats are contained.
Image credit: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-35610917