As the human-wildlife conflict escalates in the region, at least eleven lions have been killed in southern Kenya this past week, including six on Saturday itself, according to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).
A spokesperson for the KWS told CNN that this is “an unusually large number of lions to be killed at one go.” This came after conservationists announced that one of Africa’s oldest lions, Loonkiito, was killed at the age of 19 earlier this week.
He had stepped out of a protected area and into a livestock pen as he was “starving.” He was shot by the livestock owner, according to the conservation organisation Lion Guardians, as per CNN.
According to the organisation, an uptick in human-lion conflict typically occurs at the end of a drought because it becomes tougher to hunt natural prey and livestock owners are “particularly vigilant” after losing so many animals. The drought in Kenya is the worst it has been in forty years.
According to a press release from the KWS on Saturday, the six lions that died on that day had killed 11 goats and 1 dog.
According to the UN, the lions were all a part of the Amboseli ecosystem in Kajiado County, a UNESCO biosphere reserve site close to Mount Kilimanjaro, according to CNN.
Locals and government representatives attended a meeting held by KWS on Saturday to talk about the recent killings.
The KWS said, “The discussions centred on exploring ways to minimise the risk of human-wildlife conflict, including developing early warning systems to alert communities to the presence of wildlife in their vicinity.”
“Further discussions centred on the wider picture of exploring human-wildlife conflict in the context of community livelihoods and benefit sharing towards a harmonious coexistence in the open community and wildlife landscapes,” it added, CNN reported.