“There are some lions roaming around the suburbs,” my host, Mickey told me in February when I stayed in his house in Karen, a posh suburb outside of Nairobi.
How thrilling, I thought when I heard the news. It’s the same thought I always have back home in California when someone tells me they saw a mountain lion in their garden– the lions are free and wandering like all wild animals should be. But these stories rarely end well.
“What will happen to them?” I asked, thinking about the depredation permits (license to kill) given to anyone in my home state who deems a mountain lion a threat to livestock, humans, or a domesticated pet.
“They’ve escaped from Nairobi National Park. They’re smart. They somehow got through the fence of the park, and so far have alluded the seven traps set by the KWS (Kenyan Wildlife Services),” Mickey says. The neighborhoods near Nairobi National Park were full of fear because no one knew where the lions would show up next. Turns out, most of the people living in Africa have never even seen a real lion (or elephant, cheetah, chimpanzee …) and fear of predators is universal.
Flash forward to today. One of the lioness’ is dead, killed when it reacted aggressively (of course) to rangers trying for hours to dart it; the four cubs of their now dead mother have been captured and sent to the Nairobi Animal Orphanage. Spending the rest of their lives in captivity seems like unnecessarily cruel punishment for instinctively following their mother around. Why not move them to a national park, where the KWS is considering putting a second roaming lioness that was successfully captured and is being held at the KWS’s Veterinary Laboratory while they decide?
I would love to hear from you on your ideas about what should be done with the cubs and the other lioness? You can write to me in the reply box at the end of this story. And for more stories in the future, don’t forget to subscribe and become part of the growing tribe at AfricaInside. Photo credit: Thank you Gene Tremblay.