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Kenyan pastoralists kill one of Africa’s oldest lions to protect their livestock

The oldest male lion in Kenya’s Amboseli National Park ecosystem, and one of the oldest such specimens on the entire continent, was killed by farmers to protect their livestock.

A dry season recently ended, making traditional lion prey animals more resilient and harder to hunt. Loonkiito, a 19-year-old lion, got desperate for sustenance, and jumped into a corral owned by farmers in Olkelunyiet, Kenya, Wednesday. 

The livestock owners, meanwhile, were equally desperate to protect their herds after the death of many of their animals during the dry season. 

“The animal entered the cowshed around 9 p.m. and the owners attacked him with spears before he attacked the animals. It was weak due to old age and succumbed to the spear wounds in its head,” unnamed sources told Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper. 

No humans or livestock were harmed in the incident, which lasted less than 15 minutes.

Lions in the wild typically live around 10 to 18 years, making Loonkiito’s endurance all the more impressive. 

In 2021, the Kenya Wildlife Service called the male a “legendary big cat warrior,” having successfully defended his territory and offspring from challengers for over a decade.

Loonkiito’s reign lasted until 2017, when he was grievously injured in a territorial dispute. After that, Loonkiito began leading a more solitary existence.

Loonkiito “was a symbol of resilience and coexistence. We … feel privileged to have borne witness to his life and his legacy,” lion conservation nonprofit Lion Guardians, operated by the Maasai people of Kenya in Amboseli National Park, wrote in a Facebook post.

In the future, officials hope that locals notify authorities when lions stray from Amboseli National Park, so as to prevent future fatalities for the endangered species. The park hosts more than 100 lions.

“People need to be sensitized on looking for a way to alert us and then we can take animals back to the parks,” KWS spokesperson Paul Jinaro told French wire agency Agence France-Presse.

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𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝘀, 𝗖𝗼𝗽𝘆𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 & 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘆:
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