Shopping bag with realistic lion’s head printed on it sparks panic in Kenya

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A supermarket bag with a lion’s picture on it sent wildlife officers in Kenya in a tizzy after locals reported it as a sighting in the area.

On Thursday, residents of Meru County, located just a kilometre from Mt Kenya National Park, alerted the Kenya Wildlife Services about a “lion” hiding in the bushes.

But when the officers tried to lure the supposed cat out of its hideout at the homestead in Mutiribu village, it was non-responsive. It turned out to be a bag, placed by a homeowner who had put avocado seedlings in to prevent them from drying out.

It gave the bag a “filled up” look, with residents mistaking it for the lion’s head peeping through the bushes.

Tweeting about the incident, Kenya Wildlife Service lauded the public for their alertness as it shared the tollfree number for immediate assistance.

“Despite this being a false alarm, we laud the public for raising an alarm in order to mitigate a possible conflict,” it said.

Speaking with BBC, local chief Cyrus Mbijiwe said while there had been no recent reports of stray lions in the area or of missing livestock, they treated the incident with a “lot of caution and seriousness” and “first ensured that everyone was safe”.

The owner was away when the wildlife wardens were alerted. She was immediately advised to get inside through the door on the opposite side of the hedge when she reached home.

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