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Killing of Lions a Big Loss to Kenya
Between animals and humans, who is straying in whose space? The friction between humans and wildlife has existed since time immemorial thus eliciting that big question. Their was outrage when news emerged that Maasai Morans had speared six lions to death in a night battle that lasted five hours. At the end of the battle, four lionesses and two cabs were killed while two others escaped. The lions paid a high price for straying from the Nairobi National Park into a home in Kitengela killing 28 sheep and goats.
Many ask where the Kenya Wildlife Service rangers were and if they did enough to save the cats from the angry villagers who were angered with their presence and destruction of the livestock. While it is true that the KWS rangers were present, it is said that they pleaded in vain with the villagers to spare the animals in vain. The villagers are said to have demanded that the lions be sedated and taken away and the family promptly compensated. But the delay by the KWS Veterinary rangers caused the death of the lions as the angry and impatient Morans descended on the animals and killed them. The Morans are said to have vowed to kill more lions until the government fences off the park and compensates them for losses they have incurred.
The justification given by the Maasai Morans for killing the cherished lions is that the lions were killing their livestock which is their only source of livelihood. They felt that not only had their source of livelihood threatened but their lives were also in danger thanks to the cats roaming freely in their homes and neighbourhood. Their obligation is to protect their lives and that of their children and livestock. To them the life of a lion or any other wild animal is not as valuable.
Where did the Kenya Wildlife Service fail in all this? Some people say that they came too late and missed all the action. Others say that they were present but did not carry out their first duty which is to protect the lions from harm. It is said that the gently prevailed on the mob not to kill the animals. Maasai Morans who are angry about their lions cannot be prevailed upon gently and maybe they should have been more assertive to save the animals while at the same time speaking sense to the Morans. To avoid a repeat of the same, KWS should intensify patrol in the area and set up traps to capture any stray lions or any other wild animal for that matter.
The impact of the death of the lions cannot be under estimated as many tourists come from around the world to see these animals that are part of the big five. It is estimated that the number of lions remaining in Kenya is declining sharply and an estimated 100 lions are killed every year. Conservationists reacting to the criminal killing of the lions see this also as a criminal slaughter of a valuable national heritage as lions can be classified as an endangered species.
What should be done now is that Kenyans living near parks should alert KWS rangers of the stray animals instead of killing them. KWS on their part have an obligation of responding promptly whenever they receive a distress call to avert such scenarios.