The three armed Kenyan wildlife officers must have been on high alert as they cautiously approached a homestead following reports that a stray lion had been sighted in the area.
This however, turned to astonishment when all they found was a shopping bag in a hedge – albeit one with a realistic image of a lion’s head on it.
A farm hand in Kinyana village, just a kilometre from the Mt Kenya National park, raised alarm bells after spotting what he thought was a lion just outside his employer’s home.
Apparently, the bag had been placed in the hedge by the home owner, who had put some avocado tree seedlings in it and wanted to stop them drying out.
Local chief Cyrus Mbijiwe revealed that although there had been no recent reports of stray lions in the area, residents had complained that some of their livestock had gone missing.
“We treated the incident with a lot of caution and seriousness. We first ensured everyone was safe then wildlife officials investigated and discovered that it was a bag,” the chief said.
The homestead owner was away when the wildlife wardens were called. On arrival at home, she was informed about the lion and advised to enter her house via the door on the opposite side of the building from the hedge, so she didn’t immediately connect the report with the bag containing her seedlings.
The shopping bag was directly below a window and when it was opened, the officials realised that the supposed lion didn’t have a body – and was in fact a shopping bag.
Despite the false alarm, the Kenya Wildlife Service said it lauded “the public for raising an alarm in order to mitigate a possible conflict”.