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Reuters//Marko Djurica
Plotting his escape.
ON THE PROWL

A lion on the loose in Nairobi traffic has mauled a man

By Lily Kuo

An escaped lion was seen prowling along a main traffic artery in Nairobi where it mauled a 63-year-old man on Friday morning (Mar. 18).

The male lion is believed to have snuck out from the the Nairobi’s fenced national park, a 117 square kilometer (45 square mile) swathe of land home to lions, giraffes, zebras, and other animals. A video shows motorists honking at the animal as it trots along a grassy strip next to the road. The Kenyan Wildlife Service has asked drivers to refrain from doing so.

“There was some hooting that agitated the lion which injured a person,” Paul Udoto, a KWS spokesperson told local media. The injured man has been hospitalized and is in stable condition, according to the KWS. The agency has tweeted that three units have “taken control“ of the incident but did not say whether they had captured the lion.

Nairobi’s notorious morning traffic appeared to be helped by the presence of the lion.

Nairobi National Park is home to up to 40 lions who have been escaping with more regularity recently. This is the fourth time in less than a month that the cats have strayed from the park. Six lions escaped in February, likely through a small tunnel in the park, and roamed a Nairobi neighborhood before being captured. (No one was harmed.) In 2012, a group of six lions were speared to death by local residents after the predators had killed their livestock.

Conservationists blame the incidents on the encroachment of roads and infrastructure projects on the park. Parts of it have been hived off to make way for a railway link between Nairobi and the port city of Mombasa. In August last year, officials agreed to build an elevated, walled off 11km track through the park.

“I think it’s a pragmatic alternative, which this country needs,” KWS chairman Richard Leakey said at the time.