9 December 2017

Kenya: Year Ends With No Human-Lion Conflict at Nairobi Park

The lions of Nairobi National Park made headlines several times last year.

The famous lion named Mohawk, was shot dead by Kenya Wildlife Service rangers after straying outside the park and injuring one person. Two more lions were killed in the days following Mohawk's killing in unclear circumstances.

When antelopes, zebra and other animals stray from the park through the unfenced southern boundary into dispersal areas, lions often follow them, endangering their own lives as they come into contact with humans.

But the past 12 months have seen no major human-lion conflict with the exception of the tragic death of a herder attacked and killed by lions while illegally grazing his cattle inside the park.

Nickson Parmisa who lives south of the park where he is also the assistant chief and environmentalist, who attributes the state of harmony to three things.

"Our community requested the KWS to have a problem animal control unit outside of the park," said Parmisa.

Moving on motorbikes, the rangers can quickly respond to conflict or predatory incidents. "They also monitor the lions and sometimes push them back into the park."

In addition to KWS patrols there is the installation of predator deterrent lights (known as lion lights) around cattle enclosures.

The flashing lights mimic the torchlight of a person patrolling a homestead. A prototype system powered by an old car battery was created four years ago by local boy Richard Turere.

Kenyan environmentalists David Mascall and Michael Mbithi then upgraded the circuitry to function on solar power that recharges automatically.

Funded by the non-profit society Friends of Nairobi National Park, Mascall has installed 17 systems in homesteads bordering the Park this year alone.

"We thank Mascall for improving the system because we've not had attacks on homes with lion lights," says Parmisa, who secured his livestock enclosure three years ago.

A third mitigation measure has been creating community awareness on the importance of lions and coexisting with them. "Every time lions get out, the communities inform KWS or the local chiefs like myself," said Parmisa.

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