This is the sad story of the best-known resident of Nairobi National Park, Mohawk, a male lion who was seen wandering around a place called Isinya, 35 miles south of the capital, Nairobi, on Wednesday morning.
Nairobi National Park, Kenya, is bound by an electric fence except on its southern side where it is open to allow animals to migrate. Animals in national reserves are allowed to migrate to other reserves in order to extend the size of their reserve and to allow for natural behaviour.
I can only presume that Mohawk had wandered through the open part of the reserve and found himself surrounded by a crowd who threw stones and spears at him.
Mohawk became agitated after police fired weapons. He then mauled a man on a motorcycle. He is said to have attacked a motorcyclist. Can we blame him for that? I don’t think so.
A spokesman for the Kenyan Wildlife Service said that because a crowd had gathered around Mohawk the Rangers had no alternative but to shoot him to prevent more injuries.
“It was practically impossible to capture it the way we planned; with that commotion we risked more injuries or even deaths.”
It took nine shots to kill Mohawk. This is very sad. Many people are asking why he had to be shot dead. Why wasn’t he shot with a tranquilizing dart and then transported back to the park because, to be perfectly honest, there was no need for a crowd to form around him to agitate him and there was no need, it would seem to me, for the police to fire shots and exacerbate the matter?
In addition, it is said that a road and a railway cutting being built through the park is disorientating the lions. In short, the whole grisly episode was created by humans and the victim as usual, is the cat. Total mismanagement in my opinion. A petition has been started demanding that the rangers who killed Mohawk be fired. At the time of dictating this article it has met its target of 55,000 signatures.
In the past — and there have been for previous incidents of lions roaming beyond the boundaries of the park — the lions have been tranquilized to return them the park. The killing of Mohawk is a case of mismanagement.
Interestingly, is been reported that another lion, Sylvester, escaped from a National Park in South Africa (I don’t have the name of the park) and was recaptured. Wardens shot him with a tranquilizer dart from a helicopter. Instead of being put down as happened to Mohawk, Sylvester was moved to a private game reserve. This is despite the fact that this was his second adventure out of the park in two years and that he has killed a cow on a farm. In his previous escapade he killed 28 sheep, cow and an antelope while he was on the run for three weeks.
Clearly there are wider issues about humans living in harmony or disharmony with lions on reserves in Kenya. To outsiders looking in lion it looks very bad.
It is sickening to read about this sort of unnecessary killing especially when lions are routinely shot in the thousands by American sport hunters annually and when realising that the population of lions in Africa is gradually but steadily diminishing year on year. The African lion is becoming endangered.
On the path that humans have embarked upon in their relationship with the African lion, this magnificent wild cat species will one day be extinct on the continent of Africa.