While the world has had its eyes on Sylvester the Lion, Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers have been strongly condemned for the killing of a lion on Wednesday.
Kenyans took to social media to express their anger at the killing of the lion that was roaming near Isinya town on the outskirts of Nairobi.
KWS Director of Communications Paul Udoto released a statement confirming the shooting to death of the lion known as Mohawk.
“A lion was this morning put down by Kenya Wildlife Service rangers to avert injuries and deaths to members of the public,” said Udoto.
“At 8am this morning, a team of KWS rangers from the Kajiado Station were deployed to Isinya Township after they were informed about presence of a lion. They guarded it while waiting for the veterinary and capture team from Nairobi who were dispatched at around 9.30 am.
“At about 10.30 am members of the public surrounded the area where the lion was, which was about 7km from Isinya Town, on the Isinya-Kiserian road. The lion which was lying down got scared from the many shouting people who had surrounded it,” said Udoto in a statement posted on his Facebook account Wednesday night.
He said the lion’s carcass had since been disposed off in the Nairobi National Park.
Udoto said the lion was identified as a predominant male named “Mohawk” and had been involved in territorial fights in the last couple of weeks. Mohawk was born in the Nairobi National Park and was 13 years old when he was shot dead.
Isinya is about 30-40 kilometres to the south of the park, where there are no fences. The area is part of the seasonal migration area, and Mohawk was trying to establish new territory, said Udoto.
He said before the lion was shot dead it attacked and injured a motorcyclist, Evans Mburu Murigi, 27, who was among about 400 people who had surrounded the lion. They were making noises, which enraged it.
“Murigi was injured after he had ignited his motorcycle and tried to speed off. The lion ran in his direction and hit him on the back. He sustained deep lacerations on the back and other bruises on abdomen and chest when he fell off the bike,” said Udoto adding that Murigi was taken to Isinya Dispensary, where he was given first aid and later transferred to Kajiado District Hospital for further treatment.
Udoto said the lion was killed as a “last resort” as KWS rangers feared it would attack other people too.
The move solicited angry comments on social media.
Stephen Mburu posted: “The thugs opened fire and my boys returned fired! The statement is more on Murigi than Mohawk!”
Biz Kenya said: “Udoto please quit giving falsehoods. KWS murdered Mohawk. You guys should be fired and replaced with sane people”.
Tiju Aziz posted: “If rangers can crowd control over a dead elephant on the voi highway whilst they remove tusks before they let the public loose on the tuskless elephant for meat … Why couldn’t they do it here …! So much hypocrisy going on here …!”
Janet Goss said: “It may be a fine point, but as far as I am concerned, Mohawk was not ‘put down’ (which would imply an overdose of M99 or other medication which would euthanize him peacefully) – but was BRUTALLY repeatedly shot and killed by those sworn to protect him. Heads should roll both at KWS and GOK for their uncaring policies which are pushing Kenya’s wildlife toward extinction”.