Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua on Monday defended himself from a barrage of criticism from Kenyans questioning why he had told the world that Kenya has tigers across its expansive wildlife reserves.
Speaking during the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Pan-African Conference at a Nairobi Hotel, Gachagua addressed the issue by attributing it to a slip of the tongue to his native Kikuyu language.
He humorously clarified that he had actually meant to refer to leopards, as the Kikuyu community, often uses the same word to refer to the two wild animals.
"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," he stated.
Gachagua made the remarks during his working tour of Colombia on Friday, last week.
During a meeting with political and business leaders from the South American nation, the Deputy President humoured the foreigners by describing Kenya's vibrant Tourism and Wildlife sector in a cheeky way.
The second in command also welcomed them to visit Kenya and see tigers and other wild animals across various national parks.
However, his remarks did not sit well with Kenyans who questioned his knowledge of the country's tourism sector.
A large section of Kenyans remarked that his comments were not factual and did not represent the true picture on the ground.
Notably, African countries are not known to have tigers; they are primarily found in Asian countries such as Bangladesh, India, Thailand, China, Russia, and Indonesia, among others.
Unfortunately, tigers are staring at the threat of extinction, with only around 5,000 remaining worldwide, as reported by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
Meanwhile, Gachagua was the second leader to spark a debate about the wildlife in Kenya. President William Ruto, previously made headlines in July when he encouraged tourists to visit Lamu and witness the unique sight of swimming lions
"How many have seen a lion swimming? If you want to see swimming lions go to Lamu. There is a spot where lions swim," Ruto stated.
Following the remarks, tourists flocked to Lamu to see the unique sight for themselves. However, they were left utterly disappointed.
One of the tour guides at the region complained that foreigners frequenting the region were only interested in the swimming lions and were largely disinterested in other activities.
"Whenever I pick up these tourists from their hotels, they immediately ask to be taken to the spot where the lions swim," he added.