Armed wildlife officers responded to terrifying reports that a stray lion was on the loose, but were rather surprised by what they found.

Residents of Kinyana, a village in rural Kenya, had been growing increasingly concerned in recent weeks as livestock was going missing, local chief Cyrus Mbijiwe told the BBC.

There had also been no recent reports of lions in the area, adding to the mystery of the disappearances.

Then last week a farm hand thought he'd found the culprit after he spotted what seemed to be a wild big cat hiding in a bush outside his employer's home.

However, when armed officers rushed to the scene, concerned for the safety of residents, they were astonished to find a plastic shopping bag.

Chief Mbijiwe said: "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 bag had an extremely realistic picture of a lion's face on it and was positioned beneath the foliage in way which made it appear as if a real big cat was just taking a break from the sun.

The owner of the home had put some avocado tree seedlings in it and placed it under the bush so they didn't dry out, according to the BBC.

She was actually out when the armed officers arrived and she returned the officers were still dealing with what they thought may be a lion.

She was told she needed to enter the house from the opposite side of the building – away from the potentially deadly beast – so she didn't put two and two together.

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The armed officers only realised that it was actually a bag when they looked out from a window in the house, from where it was clear that the lion didn't have a body.

Kenya Wildlife Service thanked the public "for raising an alarm in order to mitigate a possible conflict", despite the confusion.

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