Kenyan authorities warn of increasing human-wildlife conflicts in capital

NAIROBI, May 23 (Xinhua) -- Kenya has stepped up surveillance to curb human-wildlife conflicts, which have recently spiked in the capital of Nairobi, due to extreme weather events and encroachment on wildlife habitats, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said.

The KWS responded to reported human-lion conflicts in the suburbs adjacent to Nairobi National Park, where carnivores have been raiding homesteads to prey on domesticated animals.

In a widely reported incident, a lioness was spotted scaling a wall at a private residence and running away with a dog at dawn on Wednesday, causing panic in the middle-income neighborhood.

In response, the wildlife agency said in a statement issued on Wednesday night that it had dispatched a human-wildlife conflict team, and assured residents of suburbs neighboring the national park that patrols had been intensified to curb further lion attacks.

According to the KWS, heavy rains that have been witnessed in Nairobi since late March have caused herbivores to migrate through unfenced sections of Nairobi National Park toward highly populated settlements.

The KWS said the mass herbivore migration was informed by the park's waterlogged conditions and overly tall grass, which provides a hideout for predator carnivores. "Consequently, carnivores also migrate in pursuit of the herbivores, which are the primary food source for lions, leopards and hyenas. This movement of carnivores leads to unfortunate incidents such as regrettable predation on domestic dogs."

The KWS clarified that more than 80 percent of Nairobi National Park's perimeter is fenced, adding that much of the capital is shielded from wildlife raids despite the significant displacement of iconic species caused by heavy rains from March to May.

In addition, the KWS urged Nairobi residents along wildlife dispersal areas to exercise caution and report sightings of roaming carnivores to well-equipped rangers through a toll-free line.

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