Yesterday, a beloved lion named Mohawk was killed by Kenyan wildlife rangers after escaping from Nairobi National Park and allegedly attacking a man. Standard protocol for subduing a wild lion on the loose calls for tranquilizing the animal so that it can be returned to its habitat, but the rangers who responded to calls for help showed up without the proper equipment. Lacking tranquilizers, wildlife rangers turned on Mohawk with rifles, and shot him dead.
The story gets even sadder as more details are revealed. Mohawk is the third lion in two months to wander out of the protected national park land, where the jungle kings are kept far from humans. He reportedly slipped out two days prior, after a territory dispute with another male lion. Witnesses say that Mohawk was surrounded by a group of men yesterday in the town of Isinya, which is 20 miles from Kenya’s capital city of Nairobi. The men took pictures of the lion and threw rocks at him. Mohawk responded by swiping at one of the men, injuring him.
A team of wildlife rangers was called in immediately to wrangle the big cat, but they didn’t have any tranquilizers. A second team was on its way, with the necessary tranquilizers to peacefully subdue the escaped lion, but rangers shot and killed Mohawk before backup arrived. A spokesman for Kenya Wildlife Service, Paul Gathitu, said this decision was made because the lion posed an immediate threat to human life. “When it injured that person, it became imminent to us that it could lead to a worse situation and it had to be brought down,” said Gathitu.
The shooting was captured in a series of images and on video by various news agencies, and it’s clear that Mohawk was walking near an unpopulated area of farmland when he was shot. Despite being surrounded by vehicles, Mohawk didn’t appear agitated before he was killed. Although it’s speculative, it seems highly likely that Mohawk would not have injured anyone had he not been surrounded, taunted, and attacked first.