• In the recent past, lions in Kenya’s capital - Nairobi National Park- have been seen loitering around the outskirts of the city.

    Although in the past, the lions have been recaptured without causing much damage to the residents, other than rousing fear, the latest case where a lion escaped from the park and mauled a man in Nairobi is of great concern.

    When encountered with a lion, the possibilities of taking to one’s heels is higher. This is because it is the most obvious reaction. But remaining still and looking directly into the lion’s eyes, however, difficult this might be, could be the best decision that a person can make.

    Experts argue that lions attack their victims while making a deep growling sound to instill fear in them to ease the attack. Even so, you should not run or turn your back on the wild animal since it’s faster than any human being.

    “Being charged by a lion when you are on foot is extremely frightening.” No matter how scared you are, do not run, and do not turn your back to the lion. Discover Wildlife says adding that, “most charges are mock charges, so you will usually be fine.”

    To repulse a wild cat, it is advised that you hold your ground, maintaining eye contact as you assess the mood of the animal. Although lion’s behavior varies from region to region, a lion that feels threatened will often swish their tails back and forth, much like how a cat does. On the other hand, a lion that is hunting tries to hold its tail as still as possible.

    If you notice the lion is maintaining its ground with its tail still, then keep your calm too and try as much as possible to appear bigger. This can be done by raising your hands and clapping while you shout your head off.

    If the lion is not approaching but it is not leaving either, start retreating from the animal in slow and calculated steps while facing it, shouting for help as you wave your arms. But if it starts to move, freeze immediately but keep raising and waving your hands.

    Most often than not, predators tend to hunt terrified prey. Exuding confidence can be the saving grace in case of a wild animal attack.

    Although you would want to climb a tree to avoid the attack by a lion, some lions can climb trees and this will worsen the situation as you will be more helpless on top of a tree.

    To avoid being attacked, the following measures should be taken into consideration:

    • Do not approach the big cats too closely particularly in the case of mating lions or lionesses with cubs.
    • Different circumstances trigger different behavior. During courtship, male lions are often extremely aggressive and should not be approached, even you are in a vehicle.
    • A lioness with cubs is naturally protective and should be given lots of space. And being predominantly nocturnal, lions lose their inherent fear of humans at night and become much more dangerous and prone to attack.
    • Be more cautious at night. Avoid camping in areas of high lion density – maintain a watch throughout the night if worried. 

    Image credit: wildlifephototour.com