Loonkiito, one of the world’s oldest wild lions, killed in Kenya

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Nairobi: 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.

Loonkiito, one of Kenya’s oldest wild lions, was killed by herders.Credit: AP

Cconservation group Lion Guardians said Loonkiito, who had defended his territory for more than a decade, was “a symbol of resilience and coexistence” and “the oldest male lion in our ecosystem and possibly in Africa”.

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 dealt a blow to conservation efforts and a tourism industry that is a key pillar of the nation’s economy.

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 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.

The 39,206-hectare Amboseli National Park is home to some of the most prized game including elephants, cheetahs, buffaloes and giraffes.

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.

AP, Reuters

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