Kenya wildlife rangers probe sighting of 2 lions out of park

AP News
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Posted: Feb 29, 2016 10:48 AM

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenya wildlife authorities Monday deployed a tracking team to investigate reports that two lions were spotted outside Nairobi National Park near a residential area.

A truck driver who told a motorcycle rider that he had spotted the lions along Ngong Road in the capital could not be found, hampering efforts to determine the exact location of the lions, Kenya Wildlife Service spokesman Paul Gathitu said. That information was relayed to police officers who reported it to the wildlife service.

Gathitu said it is possible the lions were among a group of six that wandered out of the Nairobi park earlier this month. He said the lions could be staying in the Ngong forest adjacent to the park.

Nairobi National Park hosts diverse wildlife, just six miles from downtown Nairobi. The Nairobi park, covering 45-square-miles (117-square-kilometers), is home to endangered black rhinos, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, buffaloes, giraffes and diverse birdlife. The animals roam just six miles (10 kilometers) from downtown Nairobi, which is north of the park. It's unclear how the lions got out of the park, most of which is surrounded in that area by an electric fence.

Occasionally lions will clash with people on the southern side, which is not fenced. In 2012, six lions were killed after a pride of lions attacked and killed eight goats of Masaai herdsmen.

Only about 2,000 lions are left in Kenya after years of hunting and poaching. The government has announced plans to build a railway that will traverse part of the Nairobi park. Conservationists have opposed the railway line, saying it will further damage wildlife habitat.