Kenya's celebrity lion Mohawk is dead.
The most famous lion in Kenya died a horrific, agonising — and many people say senseless — death. He was killed on Wednesday morning by rangers after he strayed from Nairobi National Park.
Mohawk had been tormented for hours before KWS rangers arrived and killed him.
Social media is in an uproar over what is being called the brutal and needless killing of the 13-year-old star attraction, beloved by tourists. Video shows the lion roaring and writhing in pain as he is felled by at nine bullets.
The killing has been described as heinous.
There was no attempt to tranquillise the black-maned lion, known as the "ladies lion" because he was often with females.
He was named Mohawk for his distinctive Mohawk-style mane that rose in a tuft from his forehead.
Mohawk had been cornered, surrounded, taunted and stoned for about six hours before he lunged at a passing boda boda rider in Isinya, Kajiado county. The man was knocked down and clawed as the lion tried to flee his tormentors.
Local officials had tried to protect Mohawk until KWS arrived, but a crowd arrived and morans attacked him with arrows and spears. He broke through the crowd and attacked the boda boda in his way.
When KWS rangers arrived, they said they had no choice but to kill him. Tranquilliser darts would take minutes to take effect and in that time the enraged lion might injure others, they said.
Mohawk was just 30km from the park, where he was born.
“We have been here all these hours protecting this lion. The rangers came with guns but we suggested the lion be sedated and taken back to the park. They have spoiled everything by killing the cat. This is wrong,” Isinya deputy county commissioner David Kipkemei told the Star.
Mohawk was one of 35 lions in Nairobi National Park, one of 2,000 nationwide. He was born in the park in 2003.
He belonged to the King Fisher pride of lions that roamed the Park Forest,
picnic site, Lion Corner, Maasai Gate and Hyena Dam within the park.
He was the only male seen repeatedly in the company of lionesses. He had a five-year-old companion.
KWS spokesman Paul Udoto said Mohawk was beloved.
"It is unfortunate the southern part of the park is not fenced. It serves as a seasonal park where animals migrate indifferent seasons. We suspect Mohawk could have moved out through the area," Udoto told the Star on the phone.
Resident Jason Parantai
had called the Star at 6am, saying the lion had been spotted and residents informed local police. He said the animal was tormented and stressed.
“If the rangers had the right equipment, this lion would not have died. You can't keep a lion in the midst of people for so many hours without stressing it, We blame them for this heinous act,”
Environment CS Judi Wakhungu blamed the infrastructure projects at the wedge of Nairobi National Park for the increasing number of stray lions.
Shee said major construction, especially on the Western and Southern part of the park, generate a lot of noise that disturbs the lions that causes them to leave the park.
As a result of construction, all the electric fencing — intended to keep animals inside — has been destroyed.
"We are working with contractors to ensure they maintain the integrity of the park and keep all animals safe," Wakhungu said.
She said though her priority is to safeguard wildlife, talks are underway with the Kenya Railways Corporation and the Transport ministry on how to balance how to balance sustainable management of natural resources and infrastructure development.
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