Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua found himself in the spotlight on Friday, September 15 as he faced a wave of criticism from Kenyans puzzled by his statement that Kenya harbored tigers within its vast wildlife reserves.
Gachagua reverses course on tiger remark after backlash
Explore the factual error made by Deputy President Gachagua regarding the presence of tigers in Kenya.
Speaking at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Pan-African Conference held at a Nairobi hotel, Gachagua took the opportunity to clarify his earlier statement and attributed it to a linguistic slip in his native Kikuyu language.
"Some of us when we are speaking, think in our mother tongue and then translate it to English. So in Kikuyu land where I come from, the leopard and tiger are one and the same," Gachagua said.
The controversial remark had initially been made during his working tour of Colombia the previous Friday.
Why Gachagua was wrong about tigers existing in Kenya
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua became the subject of online humour yet again, following a confidently delivered but factually incorrect statement during his official trip to Colombia.
In his speech, Gachagua extended an invitation to Colombian business leaders to visit and invest in Kenya, promising them not only Kenyan hospitality but also the unique opportunity to encounter wild animals such as tigers.
However, it's worth noting that tigers are not native to Kenya or Africa, as they are primarily found in Asian countries.
Why tigers are not present in Africa
There is a widespread belief that tigers, which are believed to have originated in Africa, share a common ancestry with the formidable predators of the African continent.
Researchers suggest that around 2 million years ago, a group of Felidae ventured into Asia and established themselves there.
However, the exact reason for tigers not returning to Africa remains unknown. Some researchers propose that when this group of tigers migrated to Asia, they found the climate and conditions more favorable for their survival and growth.
In contrast, the African continent, with its vast savannahs, may not have been as conducive for tigers as it has been for lions.
Facts about tigers
- Tigers have soft toe pads for silent movement in their habitat. They can travel 6-12 miles while hunting at night and use their stripes as camouflage for stealthy daytime stalking and ambushing prey.
- Tigers mainly prey on deer but also eat other animals like wild boars, birds, fish, rodents, and even insects. However, their hunting success rate is only one in ten attempts.
- Tigers possess such powerful legs that they can stand upright even after death. In some instances, they've been shot, bled out, and passed away while still standing.
- Tiger cubs are born blind, following their mother's scent for survival, and tragically, most don't make it due to hunger, cold, or being eaten by males to allow the tigress to mate.
- Tigers usually live 20-25 years, but many don't make it past 20. One example is Machli, who lived to be 19 in Ranthambore National Park. The oldest known Tiger was Flavel, who reached 25 in a Tampa, Florida zoo.
- While not the fastest runners, Tigers can sprint at speeds of up to 60 kilometres per hour, but only for short distances due to their powerful legs.
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