Ngorongoro in the rain

“There are some lions roaming around the suburbs,” my host, Mickey told me in February when I stayed in his house in Karen, a posh suburb outside of Nairobi. IMG_3372_2

How thrilling, I thought when I heard the news. It’s the same thought I always have back home in California when someone tells me they saw a mountain lion in their garden– the lions are free and wandering like all wild animals should be.

But these stories rarely end well.

“What will happen to them?” I asked, thinking about the depredation permits (license to kill) given to anyone in California who deems a mountain lion a threat to livestock, humans, or a domesticated pet. Yes, although hunting lions in California is illegal, you can shoot a lion that has killed your chicken or pet cat. ( I love cats of all sizes but trading the life of a mountain lion for a domesticated cat does not seem exactly like trading apples for apples.)

“They’ve escaped from Nairobi National Park. They’re smart. They somehow got through the park boundary fence, and so far have alluded the seven traps set by the KWS (Kenyan Wildlife Services),” Mickey says.

The neighborhoods near Nairobi National Park were full of fear because no one knew where the lions would show up next.  The park is unique in the world because it is the only protected land so close to a capital city.

Turns out, most of the people living in Africa have never even seen a real lion (or elephant, cheetah, chimpanzee …), and  as we all know fear of predators (whether we have seen them or not) is universal.

Flash forward to today. How did this lion story end?

One of the lioness’ is dead, killed when it reacted aggressively (of course) to rangers trying for hours to dart it; the four cubs of their now dead mother have been captured and sent to the Nairobi Animal Orphanage. Spending the rest of their lives in captivity seems like unnecessarily cruel punishment for instinctively following their mother around. Why not move them to another national park, where the KWS is considering putting a second roaming lioness that was successfully captured and is being held at the KWS’s Veterinary Laboratory while they decide?

I would love to hear from you on your  ideas about what should be done when predators interface with humans?
You can write to me in the reply box at the end of this story.
To receive future african and animal stories, don’t forget to subscribe to

Photo credit: Thank you Gene Tremblay.

If you were inspired by this post, please like and share it:

6 Replies to “Lions Escape, Nairobi”

  1. you are right , it sounds exciting -at first- after all its why so many go on Safaris, to see these animals in the wild. But of course when they are deemed a threat to humans, i imagine even when on a Safari, they are treated severely.

    I agree with you about having the Cubs placed in the Park with other rehabilitated lionesses. They will grow up to be the animals they were created to be. All to often we see the terrible side effects of human interference.

    keep sharing these great stories and telling them like only you can.

    Joseph V

  2. Nice to hear from you Joseph. I will keep you posted on what happens to the cubs. Can you imagine a lion walking around the streets of NYC? I imagine it would be shot on site. One day I pray non human animals will have legal rights. It is my life goal to help make that happen.

  3. Great post and very worthy thoughts. I also agree that the cubs should be sent to a park where they can roam around freely because they were doing what was in their best interest – following their mother.

    On a more positive note, I cannot wait to read more of your stories:) Good stuff!

    Cathy Trails

  4. What makes it so difficult to dart the animal? Didn’t the tranquilizer take effect? Did they miss? At least they tried, but this ending kills me too. Poor little cubs.

  5. When someone is coming towards a wild animal (with or without a dartgun) they will instinctively try to get away. I imagine there was no where to run and so the lion kept moving around, the rangers missing the shot, and then finally the lion aggressively lashed out at the rangers who then felt they needed to shoot her. It’s all in the name of wildlife management. That is a whole other topic. Stay tuned.

Comments are closed.