The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has recently had to release statements dismissing rumours of wild animals straying into residential areas neighbouring the Nairobi National Park.
In the latest such statement, the KWS last Friday sought to play down claims on social media that a pride of 10 lions had been spotted roaming a neighbourhood in Ongata Rongai.
Late last month, the official wildlife protection agency had to respond to a viral video of a hyena reportedly sighted in Nairobi’s Lang’ata Estate.
Their veracity notwithstanding, the reports appear to have caused the kind of panic in those neighbourhoods that could change the way people view wildlife and undermine efforts to manage human-wildlife conflicts. A number of Ongata Rongai residents were quoted in media reports saying they had restricted movements between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. to avoid possible encounters with the animals.
The KWS has made the right decision to enhance surveillance and patrols in the area and try to assure the people of their safety.
But this should only be a short-term measure. Both the KWS and the communities neighbouring wildlife should find a lasting solution to the problem, including reinforcing the electric fence around the park and avoiding encroachment on the conservation area.