Six lions killed by herders as blow to Kenya’s conservation

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By Webdesk

Conservationists say herders killed 10 lions in the past week after attacks on livestock and pets.

Six lions have been killed by herders in a national park in southern Kenya, a blow to conservation efforts and the tourism industry, an important pillar of the country’s economy.

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said the lions were killed by herders after the pride attacked 11 goats and a dog the previous night, conservationists said late Saturday in the latest incident of human-animal conflict in the country.

“Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident as four other lions have been killed in the past week,” KWS said in a statement.

The killings, which took place near Amboseli National Park, came a day after a lion, believed to be the oldest in the wild in the world, was speared by herders as it entered a cattle pen.

“A total of 10 lions [have been] killed in the Amboseli ecosystem” since last week, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said in a statement, adding that officials had met with community members to discuss the matter.

“Discussions focused on exploring ways to minimize the risk of human-animal conflict, including developing early warning systems to alert communities to the presence of wildlife in their environment,” the statement said. .

Residents around wildlife sanctuaries in Kenya often complain that lions and other carnivores are killing livestock and pets as humans and wildlife compete for space and resources.

The 39,206 hectare (96,880 acre) Amboseli National Park is home to some of the most prized wildlife including elephant, cheetah, buffalo and giraffe.

“The KWS officials have engaged the community in an effort to find sustainable solutions that will address the conflict while protecting both human life and wildlife,” the statement added.

On Friday, Loonkito, an iconic 19-year-old male lion, was shot dead by Maasai morans (warriors) after leaving the park in search of food.

KWS described Loonkito in 2021 as a “legendary big cat warrior” who had defended his territory for over a decade.

Conservation group Lion Guardians hailed Loonkito as “a symbol of resilience and coexistence” and said he was “the oldest male lion in our ecosystem and possibly in Africa.”

In July 2021, a lion caused panic after straying from its habitat in Nairobi National Park into a busy neighborhood during the morning rush hour.

The park is just 7km (4 miles) from the heart of Kenya’s capital, and incidents of animals fleeing the grassy plains and wandering into the chaotic metropolis of more than four million people are not unheard of.

In December 2019, a lion mauled a man just outside the park, while in March 2016 another cat was shot dead after attacking and wounding a nearby resident.

Just a month before, in February 2016, two lions spent a day wandering Kibera, a densely populated slum area of ​​the city, before returning to the park, and days later more lions were spotted in the city.

There are an estimated 2,500 lions in Kenya, according to the country’s first-ever national census conducted in 2021.

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