, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 2 – The Kenya Wildlife Service has now shifted the blame to the public, following the gunning down of the now famous lion Mohawk.
Though the service admits of late response, which they attribute it to traffic jam and poor roads in the area, they have described the incident as regrettable but which was necessary in order to save lives.
The KWS Director General Kitili Mbathi on Friday told journalists that the lion was calm until some people started throwing objects at it, which agitated the animal.
“The animal control unit found a huge jam of people and vehicles such that they were not able to get through,” he said.
The KWS Animal Control Unit was later to get stuck for about 45 minutes, 3 kilometres away from the scene, according to Mbathi.
By then, he said the more people had gathered around the lion and at one time the officers were forced to fire in the air, in a desperate move to disperse them.
“As more and more people came, they started pushing forward with some trying to ‘scare’ the animal,” he said.
It is at this time that the calm lion started making movements and as soon as one of the boda boda riders started the engine, “the lion took this as an attack. It chased him, jumped on his back, scratched him and the man was injured. He is currently at the hospital receiving treatment.”
The officers on the ground were not equipped to disperse the crowd that has gathered around the lion and were left with little choice but to kill the animal when it reacted angrily to the rocks being thrown at it.
Mbathi said the situation would have ended a completely different way had the public heeded his officer’s advice and left the animal in peace.
All along, he said the officers on the ground had been given instructions to kill the animal if it poses danger to people within the vicinity.
“It is a regrettable decision, but we need it to make it on the spot,” he said.
Though the service is well equipped and even has choppers, he said they never anticipated the situation would end that way.
“The people were hoping for excitement and that’s why they provoked the lion,” he lamented. “The people actually provoked the lion.”
Mohawk was shot dead on Wednesday.
The Nairobi Park now has 35 lions following the killing of Mohawk and yet another lion in Kajiado on Thursday.
Maasai morans speared the lion named Lemek to death only a day after KWS wardens gunned down Mohawk.
“The morans killed the lion after it killed a cow at Oloshaki village. Later on, our wardens came and took the carcass away. This trend is worrying because it is an indication of human wildlife conflict which needs to be addressed,” KWS Communications Manager Paul Udoto stated.
A meeting has since been called with various communities next week on Tuesday to address the issue of wildlife conflict.
He stated that the meeting is expected to explore ways in which KWS can better work with communities living near Nairobi National Park to mitigate ongoing conflict.
The offenders of this act, which is forbidden under the Wildlife and Conservation Management Act, 2013, could not be immediately identified.
Investigations are underway to establish the parties responsible.
He said such incidents maybe common since people have increasingly continued to encroach on the wildlife routes.
In case of such occurrence, Mbathi has urged the public to always alert the service for a quick intervention.