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11 lions speared to death — including one of Kenya's oldest — as herders carry out "retaliatory" killings

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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, resulting in the "retaliatory killing of 11 lions," in the past week, officials said.   

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.

Kenya Lions Killed
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

Six other lions from the same national park were speared by herders after they killed 11 goats and a dog in Mbirikani area, Kajiado county. The deaths brought to 11 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.

"The meeting centered on peaceful and harmonious coexistence between the community and wildlife," Kenya Wildlife Service  said in a social media statement.

KWS Director General, Dr. Erustus Kanga, accompanied the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage,...

Posted by Kenya Wildlife Service on Sunday, May 14, 2023

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.

"While we are relieved there were no human injuries, this isolated but tragic incident is a harsh illustration of the challenges in ensuring co-existence between human and wildlife," the group said in a statement on Facebook. "Big Life remains committed to the wellbeing of both humans and animals in the Greater Amboseli ecosystem and will continue to work with the broader community who supports conservation initiatives as we recover from this event."

Wild lions rarely live past 15 years, according to conservationists.

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