NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 1 – According to the Kenya Wildlife Service, it was a case of the phantom limb, Kenyans seeing lions roaming the city even where they were none; a reaction to sightings a week earlier.
That was Monday morning, when a motorist reported seeing two lions walk along the fence of the Kenya Forest Service Station on Ngong road on the way to Karen, near the southern bypass junction.
He stopped and informed a guard employed by the Chinese company contracted to construct the bypass.
But when KWS rangers got to the scene, it was clean. “The soil was loose so you’d expect to see paw prints but there were none and after combing the area, we found no lions,” Nairobi National Park Deputy Warden Muraya Githinji told Capital FM News.
“Besides, it’s unlikely that they walked all the way from Lang’ata to Ngong road and only one person saw them.”
On the morning of Friday, February 19 however, it was a different story. Reports of sightings of what popularly came to be known as “the Lang’ata Six” had come flooding in.
From as early as 1am, a motorist reported witnessing four lionesses cross Lang’ata road and many others, presumably on their way to work, reported seeing between two and four lionesses.
“We think they split up at some point with mama lion turning back towards the barracks and her cubs,” KWS Spokesperson Paul Gathitu told Capital News.
The cubs, believed to be two in number, bringing the total number of lions outside the Nairobi National Park that Friday morning, to six.
The reports sent Kenyans online into a frenzy and in typical Kenyans on Twitter fashion, the memes came fast and a plenty. It probably didn’t hurt that it was a Friday.
There were those who played on the name of the famous Lang’ata meat eatery, the Simba Saloon, joking that the lionesses had likely stepped out of the Nairobi National Park to get their ‘hairs’ done.
Others joked that the residents of the nearby Ongata Rongai had set the lions loose to keep the National Transport Safety Authority and their breathalysers off their roads.
Others still, joked that the lionesses had gone out in search of the Lang’ata club 1824.
Matatus on the route, it was joked, had increased their fares as the rides now qualified as game drives.
And in an adaptation of the Lion King, #KOT joked that when Mufasa and Simba stood out on Pride Rock, they were looking out at Lang’ata.
But it wasn’t all fun and games, particularly for the KWS teams charged with ensuring the animals’ return to the Nairobi National Park and according to Gathitu, definitely not for the lionesses which felt they were under siege; the catalyst to their tour of Lang’ata.