The Kenyan capital of Nairobi has been on high alert today after it was found that at least two lions had escaped on Thursday evening from the national park that fringes the city. The Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS), who is responsible for the park, sent armed rangers and vets to search the region around Kibera, one of Africa’s largest slums, situated only a few kilometers from the edge of the national park.
So far, a female lion and her two cubs have been recaptured, but residents are warned to stay vigilant for any other big cats that might be roaming the streets. The lions are thought to have wandered out of Nairobi National Park, which borders the capital. It is fenced on the side closest to the city, but open elsewhere to allow the animals to migrate.
At around 117 square kilometers (45 square miles), it is a small size for an African park, but still retains large and varied wildlife populations, including rhinos, hippos, giraffes, and about 30 lions. Initially, reports suggested that up to six lions might have struck out from the park, but this claim was later denied by the KWS, who simply said it was “certainly more than one, but not six.”
In response to questions on Twitter, the spokesman for the KWS, Paul Udoto, told a resident concerned about whether or not to lock their children up, “please do until we report lions have been captured and safely returned to the park. Perils of born town lions [sic].” He has advised against confronting or provoking any of the lions that might still be on the loose, but to contact the KWS immediately with any information about their whereabouts.
This is apparently not the first time that the big cats have wandered into the capital. With the park hemmed in on one side by the city, the animals that live within it are under increasing pressure from expanding populations and agriculture taking over more and more of the surrounding landscape, eating into the wildlife’s migrating and hunting grounds.