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One of Kenya’s oldest wild lions was killed by herders and the government has expressed concern as six more lions were speared at another village on Saturday, bringing to 10 the number killed last week alone.
The male lion named Loonkiito was 19 years old and was described as frail by Kenya Wildlife Service spokesperson Paul Jinaro, who said it wandered out of the Amboseli national park into a village in search of food on Thursday night.
Six other lions from the same national park were speared by herders after they killed 11 goats in Mbirikani area, Kajiado county. The deaths brought to 10 the number of lions killed by herders last week in escalated human-wildlife conflict that has worried the government.
Tourism minister Peninah Malonza met locals in Mbirikani area on Sunday and urged them not to spear wandering lions and to instead reach out to the wildlife service.
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This photo provided by Lion Guardians shows the male lion named “Loonkiito” in Amboseli National Park, in southern Kenya on Feb. 20, 2023. (Philip J. Briggs/Lion Guardians via AP)
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The government and conservation groups have a compensation program for herders whose livestock is killed by wild animals.
But herders have become more protective after losing livestock to a drought that has been termed as the worst in decades in the East Africa region.
Conservation group Big Life Foundation’s Craig Miller said the killing of Loonkiito “was unfortunate” because he was the oldest lion in the Amboseli national park.
Wild lions rarely live past 15 years, according to conservationists.