Six lions walked out of Nairobi National Park and were roaming through parts of the city on Friday, scaring residents for a few hours before the big cats returned to the reserve.
The lions were first spotted at 4 a.m. near a hospital in the suburb of Langata, and later near Kibera, Kenya’s largest slum, said Kenya Wildlife Service spokesman Paul Udoto.
A team of wildlife rangers went out to find the lions “prepared for anything” and return them to the park, but the lions were later spotted back in the park, having made their own way back, Udoto said.
Nairobi National Park’s 45 square miles is home to endangered black rhinos, lions, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, buffaloes, giraffes and diverse birdlife. The animals roam just six miles from downtown Nairobi, which lies north of the park. It’s unclear how the lions got out of the park, most of which is surrounded in that area by an electric fence.
Occasionally, lions have clashed with people on the southern side, which is not fenced.
In 2012, six lions were killed after the pride of eight lions attacked and killed eight goats of Masaai herdsmen. After years of hunting and poaching, only about 2,000 lions are left in Kenya.
The government has announced plans to build a railway that will traverse part of the reserve. Conservationists have opposed the railway line, saying it will further damage wildlife habitat.