Stray lions cause panic around the Maasai Mara

Lions on top of trees at Naibosho conservancy in the Masai Mara Game Reserve. Due to the tall grass the lions have resorted to climbing tree tops to spot potential prey. [Robert Kiplagat]

A team of rangers has been dispatched by the county government to track lions that are on the loose from the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.

Masai Mara Deputy Chief Park Warden Edward Nkoitoi said he could not tell exactly how many lions had left the park in search of prey.

The wandering lions have caused panic among Narok residents.

Mr Nkoitoi said the grass in the park has made it hard for the lions to hunt as it is difficult for them to sight their prey, leaving them starving.

Heavy rains

SEE ALSO :Fisherman who rescued Osprey bird collapses

“Due to the ongoing heavy rains, the savannah is now abundant with lush green grass, which has grown very tall,” he said.

“Medium-sized grazers like gazelles, elands, wildebeests and zebras, which are a favourite meal for the lions, prefer shorter grass and have therefore migrated to the conservancies.”

Nkoitoi added that the migrating lions will trigger human-wildlife conflict if they are not stopped soon, as they are bound to feast on livestock and attack humans in their path.

BISHOPS: We fear corona like the devil - The Nairobian  

Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) Deputy Warden Augustine Ajuoga said the agency has been holding frequent sensitisation meetings with the community to find ways of forestalling conflict.

Ajuoga said KWS is working with other wildlife organisations to combat human-wildlife conflict.

SEE ALSO :Rhinos in Kenya face a new threat: study

One of the initiatives is helping communities build predator-proof cow sheds to keep wild animals out.

“Most of the residents living around the park are aware of what is going on. They have even embraced the use of solar lighting to scare away the lions,” he said.

Ajuoga added that parents have been cautioned against sending their children to herd, which he said exposed them to attacks.

He said it was impossible to fight predation fully, especially in areas where pastoralists keep huge herds that roam free.

Ecologists said contrary to the idea that grazers like gazelles, topis and zebras enjoy the tall grass during rainy seasons, they actually dislike it as it exposes them to predators

Nkoitoi said the few territorial lions that are still in the park have developed survival tactics, such as climbing trees, rocks and anthills to catch a glimpse of their prey.

Pastoral communities herding near the park have been warned of the marauding lions.

Tourists at the park are having a field day, however, as they can now easily sight lions at the conservancies.

Leonard Sadera, a veteran tour guide at the Maasai Mara, said the sight of lions climbing trees is beautiful and rare.

“Tourists are asking to be taken to see the tree-climbing lions. It's a great attraction,” he said.

Nkoitoi, however, said the wardens have on several occasions been forced to rescue some of the lions that climb tall trees and are eventually unable to descend.

Narok Wildlife Forum Chairman Nicholas Murero asked the authorities to act quickly to prevent human-wildlife conflict.

Do not miss out on the latest news. Join the Standard Digital Telegram channel HERE.

Get the latest summary of news in your email every morning. Subscribe below

* indicates required
Kenya Wildlife ServicesKWSMasai Mara Game ReserveMasai Marahuman-wildlife conflict