Recently there have been number of news reports of lions straying from Nairobi National park into city estates. One such incident led to a serious mauling of a man. While lions straying off the park is not unheard of, it is obvious these incidents are on the rise. This is attributed to increased human activity around the park, particularly building of the Southern Bypass road. Matters will only get worse when the Standard Gauge Railway will pass through much of western parts of the park. After this there will be only more pressure to degazette the park, seen as a prime land by many developers.
So far strayed lions have been returned to the park, but the latest incident saw a lion being killed by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) rangers, sparking international headlines. The day after this, another incident saw Masai morans (a term for a Masai warrior) kill a lion by spears after the lion had killed a cow. The park has just over 30 lions, so killing of these will have a significant negative effect on the population.
Elsewhere in Kenya, there were widespread news of lions being killed near Masai Mara last year.
Increasing human habitation near parks and encroachment will inevitably lead to more human-wildlife conflicts around Nairobi NP and other parks in Kenya. Elephants trample fields destroying crops, while lions and other predators kill livestocks, and in the worst case, humans. For rural poor people, wildlife is a nuisance, not an asset (unless they engage in poaching). They are not the ones who benefit from tourism. While foreign tourists bring plenty of money to the country, most of it goes to few hands.
Pastoral Masai have lived among wildlife since long times. They are used to kill wildlife to protect themselves, but in a sustainable way. But not anymore as their population and amount of livestock have grown rapidly. Unfortunately Masai do not kill wildlife only to protect their safety and livelihood, but also use it as political tool.
Local people have the right to protect themselves and their property. National parks are there so wildlife can thrive free of significant human disturbance. But being isolated in relatively small parks has significant negative effects on population ecology. There will always be wildlife outside the parks where they pose a threat to local people. Consequently, managing human-wildlife conflict properly is really important, despite being a difficult issue to deal with.