Kenya’s tourism marketers on Sunday decried the killing of two iconic lions that had strayed from the Nairobi National Park, warning that such actions can dent efforts to attract visitors to the East Africa nation.
Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) and Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) in a joint statement expressed great concern on the latest incidents of big cats being killed, and called on the public living adjacent to the park to protect the wild animals.
“The tourism industry is very concerned about these most regrettable incidents. We strongly support conservation of our precious wildlife, which is part of the country’s natural heritage and an important national asset, vital for tourism,” the statement said.
The statement came after two lions were killed in the past week, one by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers after straying outside the park and becoming agitated by the presence of a large crowd of people, which caused it to attack and injure a resident near Nairobi.
The following day, another stray lion from the park was found speared to death.
“We are also alive to the fact there is growing human wildlife conflict that is aggravated by pressure from encroachment into what was previously wildlife habitat and animal migration corridors,” the statement said.
“This calls for careful mitigation of the potential adverse impacts that could arise from such a situation,” it added.
The tourism bodies called upon the members of the public residing in the area adjacent to the park to be tolerant of wild animals when such incidents occur, and to give KWS personnel all the support they require in order to carry out their work effectively.
The incidents are the latest in a spate of cases where the big cats have sneaked into human settlements in the suburbs of Nairobi.
In the space of two months, there have been at least three confirmed cases of lions coming into contact with people in Nairobi and the surrounding areas.
The two tourism bodies said they will meet with KWS to discuss what lessons have been learnt from these very unfortunate incidents, and to work together to draw up an action plan to avoid the recurrence of similar incidents so that Kenya can have a healthy and well-protected lion population.