Nairobi, Kenya First, a lioness ventured into the city as a decoy to draw officials away from her cubs that were lost in an army barracks.
Then, just weeks later, a pride of six lions breeched a fence into a pasture killing as many as 120 goats and sheep. One lion lost his bearings and ended up on a major highway, injuring a man before finding his way back into Nairobi National Park, located adjacent to Kenya’s capital city.
Now, this week, a popular lion named Mohawk ventured some 20 miles (32 kilometers) south of that park only to be surrounded and harassed by onlookers. When he responded by attacking one of them, he was shot and killed by park rangers.
Why are so many lions leaving Nairobi National Park? Some experts think noise and activity from the construction of a new railway and highway along the park’s edge is to blame.
Others hypothesize the lions are running out of prey, pushing them to look for food elsewhere.
But more likely it’s a combination of two factors: The number of lions in the park has grown, and so has the bustling city of three million that surrounds it.
Thirty-five lions now live in the park, more than there have been in the past, according to Paul Gathitu, a Kenya Wildlife Service spokesperson based at the park.
Lions have been known to use territory as large as 155 square miles (401 square kilometers), and Nairobi National Park encompasses a mere 45 square miles (138 square kilometers).
And when wildlife and humans clash, nearly always, “the wildlife loses,” says Luke Dollar, a conservation biologist who helps manage National Geographic’s Big Cats Initiative.
SOURCE: By Jacob Kushner