Fear has gripped community members who stay in areas surrounding Liwonde National Park (LNP) over the introduction of lions in the park, saying lions pose a threat to their lives.

Recently, African Parks officials at the nature sanctuary announced that they had introduced lions, one of the Big Five family members [leopards, tigers, elephants, rhinoceros and Cape buffalo] to the park as one way of promoting tourism in the country.

However, this has raised fears among residents of Masanje and Malombe areas, in Traditional Authority (T/A) Chowe’s area, as some of them pass through LNP when the need to access services such as health and education arises.

Additionally, the Mangochi Malombe Road passes through LNP up to Masanje area where the road connects to Nserema on the Bakili Muluzi Highway.

People who stay in villages surrounding the national park said lions pose a threat to their lives, considering that, countless times, wild animals have strolled out of the park.

On some occasions, people meet wild animals such as elephants as they cross the road on their way to Lake Malombe.

This, according to Mustafa Awali of Masanje, proves that lions may pose a threat to people’s lives if no measures to confine them are taken.

“We feel that it will be good if the lions are confined to one area because, sometimes, we have been encountering elephants. In fact, some of our properties have been damaged by wild animals. The case will be different with lions because they kill to eat when they are hungry; as such, this issue should be looked into carefully,” Awali said.

Chowe concurred with Awali, saying his subjects’ fears are understandable.

He, however, said LNP officials have assured them of maximum security to property and people.

Chowe said, among other things, park officials have told them that they plan to erect a fence on both sides of the road inside the national park to ensure that the lives of people who pass through it are not put at risk.

Speaking during an earlier meeting, which was held in Liwonde, Machinga District, African Parks Country Director, Patricio Ndadzera, said people around LNP should not be afraid of lions because measures have been put in place to prevent cases of confrontation between the beasts and people.

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