Kenya Rangers Cause Lion's 'Heinous' Death

Mohawk the lion howled in pain after being shot by team that didn't have tranquilizers
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 31, 2016 9:01 AM CDT
Kenya Rangers Cause Lion's 'Heinous' Death
A ranger from the Kenya Wildlife Service shoots dead Wednesday a male lion that had strayed from the Nairobi National Park in Kenya.   (AP Photo)

An escaped lion, a taunting crowd, and an ill-prepared first-response team came together in Kenya to cause what some are saying was the unnecessary, senseless death of the lion, the country's Star reports. Mohawk, a 13-year-old lion who was one of Nairobi National Park's most well-known creatures due to his trademark mane and rep as somewhat of a "ladies' lion," had escaped from an unfenced section of the park and ended up in the town of Isinya, where he was promptly surrounded by a jeering group of men, the Washington Post reports. Mohawk became upset by the noise and the growing crowd—Kenya Wildlife Service officials tell the AP about 400 had surrounded him—and lunged at a 27-year-old man, who was sent to the hospital with bruises and severe lacerations on his back. The wildlife service already had an animal management team on the scene, but those rangers had only rifles, not tranquilizers.

After Mohawk pounced on the bystander, the rangers felt they couldn't wait for a second team on its way with tranqs—so they unleashed what the Star says was nine bullets, leaving the animal "roaring and writhing in pain" as he died. "If the rangers had the right equipment, this lion would not have died," a local resident tells the paper. "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." The shooting has prompted plenty of backlash on social media, including a #JusticeForMohawk hashtag, but the wildlife service says it had no choice once the lion started attacking humans. "This action was taken as a last resort after an escalation of the situation and a concern for public safety," the Kenya Wildlife Service says, per CNN. A bunch of lions have busted out of the park lately, driven by what conservationists say is the noise from development projects, including a highway being built through the park. (Same ending, different means for Cecil the lion.)

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