Two Protected Lions Were Killed Because People Wouldn’t Leave Them Alone

Credit: Jambo News Spot
Credit: Jambo News Spot

Mohawk the lion, named for his unique mane, escaped the Nairobi National Park in Kenya last week and was shot to death by rangers. The very next day, another lion named Lemek also ventured out of the park and was speared to death by residents. So why are the lions suddenly fleeing the park and why are they being killed?

Many speculate that the nearby construction, a new road and railway project that’s supposed to cut through an inner city Nairobi nature reserve, is scaring the lions out of the park. The lions were likely trying to further themselves from the loud construction noises in search of quieter hunting grounds. Additionally, a senior Kenyan Wildlife Service official told reporters that contractors working on the project had accidentally cut an electric fence that keeps the wildlife contained in the park, allowing the lions to escape.

Mohawk, the first lion that was killed last week, had escaped the park but wasn’t initially hurting anyone. It wasn’t until a mob of people had surrounded him and began throwing rocks and wielding machetes and sticks, agitating and scaring Mohawk, that the lion swiped someone with his paw and became a “threat to human life.” As he ran away from the crowd, he was shot several times by the rangers sent there to handle the situation.

The beloved lion was described as “very well-behaved and gentle,” although he had been cited as a participator in recent territorial fights within the park as the number of male lions on the reserve had increased in recent years.

People have become outraged since the death of Mohawk, making #JusticeForMohawk a popular hashtag and calling for the firing of the rangers that shot Mohawk and asking that the process for securing a loose lion be reevaluated. The veterinary and capture team may not have arrived yet with the tranquilizers, but the rangers could have shot the lion once or twice to stop him and had the vets remove the bullets later.

Credit: CNN
Credit: CNN

Lemek and another lion escaped the park the next day and were both speared by local Maasai tribesmen. The other lion was wounded and Lemek was found dead “under a large thicket” with a spear through his body. The Maasai tribesmen were said to be the executioners and, since it is illegal to kill the lions under the Wildlife and Conservation Management Act of 2013, there is set to be a meeting so that authorities can find out why the lions were speared.

Kitili Mbathi, director general of Kenya Wildlife Service, said that the rangers set a bad precedent for how to deal with the escaped lions by killing Mohawk the day before.

Ryan Ndetei, species conservation manager at the World Wildlife Fund’s Nairobi office, said, “If you don’t do proper environmental-impact assessments, then you are doomed to fail, and at the Nairobi National Park this could lead to more lions and other animals coming into contact with a growing human presence.”

Though there is no petition for Lemek because of the mystery surrounding his death so far, you can still get justice for Mohawk by signing a petition here.

Do you think the Kenyan rangers and the local tribesmen should pay for the deaths of these lions? Comment your thoughts below and share this article!

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