, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 19 – The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has announced that the two stray lionesses which were roaming loose in Lang’ata are most likely back in the Nairobi National Park.
KWS Spokesman Paul Udoto told Capital FM News they were convinced the lionesses were no longer a threat to the public because they had not been found after a daylong search.
“The lionesses are suspected to have returned before daybreak. All is well that ends well,” he assured.
The search for the lionesses was mainly concentrated around NHC houses and Kibera off the Southern bypass where the big cats had been spotted at about 5am.
It involved KWS rangers armed with tranquilizer guns as well as veterinary officers who were deployed as soon as residents reported spotting the two lionesses roaming around Lang’ata at dawn.
Nelly Palmeris, a senior warden at the park had earlier told journalists that a total of four lions had strayed from the park.
“We suspect that they split and they made their way to different directions and two of them have been sighted at the military barracks where they will be captured and taken back to the park,” she said, and appealed to residents to provide information once they see the two lionesses which had gone missing before Udoto announced that they were “most likely back.”
Joy Adhiambo, a resident of Kibera said during the Friday morning search that they were terrified when they were told of lions roaming in their estate.
“I received a call in the morning from my mother that there were lions here and I got worried because I have kids,” she said, as KWS rangers moved around the vast estate and nearby forests in search of the missing lions.
It is not the first time lions have strayed from the national park that is just seven kilometres from the city centre.
While the park is fenced in on the city side – some bars even have terraces where one can view animals while enjoying a cold drink – the park is open-sided elsewhere to allow the annual wildlife migration in search of grazing.
But the land is under threat from increasing urbanisation and more intensive agriculture, and the routes used by migrating herds in search of new pastures as well as the carnivores that follow for fresh meat are growing narrower.
Lions are estimated to have declined in number by as much as three-quarters since 1980, and to occupy less than a tenth of their historic range across Africa.
The Nairobi National Park has between 35 and 40 lions.