Six lions killed in Kenya in blow to conservation efforts


Six lions have been killed in a national park in southern Kenya, in a blow to conservation efforts and the tourism industry that is a key pillar of the nation’s economy.

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) said the lions were killed after attacking goats and a dog near villages close to the Amboseli National Park.

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

KWS said its officials met with the local com-munity to try to find a solution to recurring conflicts between the animals and community members, but did not say what had been agreed.

Residents around nature reserves in Kenya often complain that lions and other carnivores kill livestock and domestic animals as humans and wildlife compete for space and resources.

The 39,206-hectare Amboseli National Park is home to some of the most prized game including elephants, cheetahs, buffalos and giraffes. Reports of wildlife straying into human habitats in Kenya have increased in recent years as the ani-mals come under growing pressure from cities ex-panding into ancient migration and hunting grounds.

On Friday, Loonkito, an iconic 19-year-old male lion, was speared to death by Maasai morans (war-riors) after he left the park in search of food.

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

Conservation group Lion Guardians eulogised 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 crowded neighbourhood during morning rush hour.

The park is just seven kilometres (four miles) from the heart of Kenya’s capital, and incidents of animals escaping 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 to death just outside the park, while in March 2016 another cat was shot dead after attacking and injuring a nearby resident.

Just a month before that, in February 2016, two lions spent a day wandering through Kibera, a densely packed city slum, before returning to the park, and days later more lions were spotted in town.

There are an estimated 2,500 lions in Kenya, ac-cording to the country’s first-ever national wildlife census conducted in 2021.—INP