Roar of Construction Work Scaring Lions

A leading Kenyan wildlife expert has said the noise from road construction is scaring lions out of Nairobi National Park and could lead to the death of people or the lions.

📅   Tue March 22, 2016 - National Edition
Tom Odula - ASSOCIATED PRESS


The construction of a road joining two of the city's major highways along the boundary of the Nairobi park is disorienting the lions, said wildlife expert Paula Kahumbu.
The construction of a road joining two of the city's major highways along the boundary of the Nairobi park is disorienting the lions, said wildlife expert Paula Kahumbu.

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) A leading Kenyan wildlife expert has said the noise from road construction is scaring lions out of Nairobi National Park and could lead to the death of people or the lions.

A lion injured a 63-old man March 18 after it strayed from the Nairobi park into a major highway during the morning rush hour. Kenya Wildlife Service rangers captured and returned it to the park. It was the third incident in the last two months of lions straying from the park.

The construction of a road joining two of the city's major highways along the boundary of the Nairobi park is disorienting the lions, said wildlife expert Paula Kahumbu.

“I suspect that the construction along the [southern bypass] is related to this. There is a lot of activity, noise and possibly dust and vibrations. The lions are simply not used to this. Many people fear that the lions will hurt someone and give KWS [Kenya Wildlife Service] a reason to close the park and develop it,' Kahumbu said.

Kenya Wildlife Service said they are investigating how the lions are leaving the park on the side that has an electric fence. Paul Udoto, a wildlife service spokesman, said that probe will look into whether the lions are being affected by the construction of the road and if the fence has been damaged by animals or the local communities.

The government has announced plans to build a railway that will traverse part of the reserve. Conservationists have opposed the railway line, saying it will further damage the wildlife habitat.

Nairobi National Park's 45-sq.-mi. (117 sq km) is home to endangered black rhinos, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, buffaloes, giraffes and diverse birdlife. The animals roam just 6 mi. from downtown Nairobi, which lies north of the park.