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Kenya monitors lions after one is shot to death

By HOU LIQIANG in Nairobi, Kenya (chinadaily.com.cn) Updated: 2016-04-01 00:16

The Kenya Wildlife Service dispatched a helicopter on Thursday to monitor the movement of lions after rangers killed a lion that escaped from a park in the capital of Nairobi and pounced on a man in a crowd.

The man, who was hospitalized with deep lacerations and bruises, had joined hundreds of bystanders surrounding the escaped animal in a town on Wednesday.

The death of Mohawk, a majestic 13-year-old male cat so named because of the shape of his black mane, sparked an outcry among Kenyans who asked why rangers did not tranquilize him instead.

The KWS said rangers had to shoot the lion to save lives because a veterinary and capture team had not yet arrived with tranquilizers. "This action was taken as a last resort after an escalation of the situation and a concern for public safety," the KWS said in a statement.

The lion escaped from the Nairobi National Park on Wednesday and ended up in Isinya town, 12 miles away, according to the KWS. Isinya is part of the seasonal migration area for lions, the wildlife service said. The lion had been involved in territorial fights in the last couple of weeks and was trying to establish new territory when he was spotted, according to a statement from the KWS.

KWS members were guarding the lion while waiting for a veterinary and capture team, but the cat was scared by noise from about 400 people who surrounded it. Evans Mburu Murigi, 27, was among the crowd, the wildlife service said, and when he started his motorcycle and tried to speed off, the lion pounced on him. He sustained deep lacerations on the back and other bruises on his abdomen and chest when he fell off the bike, it said.

Six lions escaped from the Nairobi National Park around Feb19 and wandered onto residential streets in Nairobi. They then returned to the park one day later.

A lion that escaped from the park on March 18 also attacked a man.

Nairobi National Park is home to leopards, buffaloes, giraffes and other animals grazing in sprawling grasslands with the city's skyscrapers in the background. It is largely bounded by an electric fence to keep animals inside. But its south side, away from the city, is bordered by a river. It is unclear whether that is the path the lions use to sneak out.

The wildlife service said the helicopter team is also supporting a ground surveillance team that had been deployed following a report of two lions in Oleshie centre of old Kitengela, which is 30 kilometres from Nairobi, and efforts are being made to drive them back to the park.

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