NAIROBI – A teenager has been killed by lions attacking a group of cattle herders in Nairobi National Park, Kenyan police have said.
A Kenya Wildlife Service ranger said the 18-year-old man was mauled to death and his body mostly eaten after the two predators struck at about 2am.
Wardens rescued seven people, according to officials.
Lion attacks are not common, but as Kenya’s capital enjoys a boom in apartment and road construction, an expanding population centre is putting heavy pressure on Kenya’s famed wildlife, especially its big cats.
Nairobi National Park is the only wildlife park in the world that lies within a country’s capital city.
Acting Kenya Wildlife Service chairman Julius Mwangi said the men should not have been grazing cattle in the park, which is restricted, especially at night.
A prolonged drought that has affected half of Kenya’s 47 counties has forced the Maasai and other livestock-keeping communities to sneak their cattle into the park at night in search of pasture to save their animals, said Mr Mwangi.
Several documentaries have appeared to show that lions are fearful of the Maasai warriors. Maasai are known to hunt the lions down when their animals are attacked.
Mr Mwangi said lions can recognise Maasai warriors from the spears they carry and the red wraps they wear and usually stay away.
At night, however, the Maasai wear jackets because of the cold and the lions may not have recognised them.
“When the pride of lions pounced on the people they just knew they were human beings,” Mr Mwangi said.
Nairobi National Park’s 45 square miles are home to endangered black rhinos, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, buffaloes, giraffes and birdlife.
The animals roam just six miles from central Nairobi, which lies north of the park.
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