On Tuesday 17th of January 2010 I received two distressing phone calls about the death of a lioness or lionesses in Nairobi Park. In one story a witness observed a lioness on the Magadi road near Brook house school being hit by a matatu (public bus) and sent into the path of an oncoming car which also hit her. The second call was that a lioness body and head was found inside the forest in Nairobi Park near the Banda gate.
Sometime later another report came in that a headless lioness body was found beside the road near the Banda gate.
It is fantastic that so many people called in reports regarding this individual lioness, showing just how concerned Nairobi residents are about the wildlife of the park. However, the failure of the authorities to inform the rangers and visitors about what had happened, led to some rather imaginative suggestions that were circulated widely on phones and emails. Here are a few of the stories that a lioness shot by an AP (administration police), and that another one was hit by a car and then her head and paws removed by KWS rangers to sell, and that she was poached and her head removed and paws taken.The story of a dead lioness became double and claims that two lions had died began to emerge due to a simple typo on an email. The fact that different arms of KWS had different levels of information and explanations added to a rich controversy.
Members of FoNNaP asked me to write a post about this incident and as someone who has dealt with wildlife poaching before, I decided to inquire at KWS in order to bring you the official story.
The lioness was hit by a Matatu near Brookhouse sometime between 4.20 am and 5.30 am. She may have been hit by another car as well. We have one person who witnessed seeing the lioness on the roadside at 5.45 am.
The KWS collected the body for autopsy and in the process cut off the head. Concluding that she died from being hit by a matatu, her body and head were put into the forest some time early in the morning. Hyenas subsequently dragged the body to the road side – hence the headless body being observed by so many in the picture above.
We thank KWS for clearing up the story for us and welcome the public to continue reporting any incidents of concern. It is easy to see how the story went so wildely out of control due to lack of any official information. We hope that this is a lesson for all and that in future KWS ensures that information flows quickly and accurately to nip any exaggerations in the bud.
For those interested in Lions and their conservation challenges in Kenya, Charles Musyoki of KWS will be talking at the next FoNNaP meeting on 29th Jan at KWS Safari walk training room at 10 am. Please tell your friends and come on time for what promises to be a very interesting presentation.
Park Clean up: January 30th – if you would like to help please register with fonnap by emailing email@example.com or calling Irinah on 0723582492