Lion Guardian Melubo killed a legendary lion – now he protects them

Melubo is another one of the pioneers of the Lion Guardians program. His real name is Matasha ole Nakenyu. Simply, Matasha son of Nakenyu. Melubo is his â??lion name’ -  a title of reverence he was given after he killed a lion. His fame still prevails, as the lion he killed was legendary. It was a huge fully-maned male lion that struck terror among fellow warriors.


That was the past; today Melubo is a force to reckon with in lion conservation. In his zone, everyone knows him. They burden him with all their woes about conservation and human-wildlife conflict, expecting him to magically solve their problems! Cool under all circumstances, Melubo handles them with such gracefulness that everyone is happy dealing with him.

Here Melubo tells us about how his community feels about lion conservation and the Lion Guardians:

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At the beginning of this year, two lions were poisoned, one of which was Sangale, Melubo’s favourite lion. Melubo got the news of their deaths when he got home from our end of month meeting and New Year celebrations, and was extremely shocked and saddened. He says that thinking of Sangale makes him very sad as he worked so hard to conserve him.


Listen to Melubo telling us how he feels about being a Lion Guardian, and how it has helped him:

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Melubo is married to one wife and has three young children. He lives in a large boma with a few of his brothers, his mother, and his huge father! Yes, his father is a really big man! Mr. Nakenyu, Melubo’s father is also a charismatic and highly regarded member of the Oltiasika community, which Melubo represents. Here he is chatting to Lenkina, one of the Lion Guardians.



  • Annie says:

    Hello Melubo! So nice to meet you also! Thanks for now helping the beautiful lions! Awesome work you do!

  • Chris says:

    It is wonderful that Melubo the famous lion hunter is now their protector and has the respect of his community for this work. It is clear from the audio tape that the Lion Guardian programme benefits the community too and I hope it will spread to other regions. What is really sad is the impact the death of Sangale has had on all the Guardians. This must indicate just how few lions there must be now in your region. What was it about Sangale that made him the favourite lion of the Guardians?

  • Chris J says:

    I’m curious to know how many lions are in the area at any one time, and how big an area is it? Are there many cubs ie. are numbers increasing? Do they tend to stay in the same area most of the time or do they come and go? Are any other animals endangered in the same way?
    Sorry for so many questions but it helps to build up a picture of the overall situation. Hope you have time to answer!

  • Hi, thanks for your comments. Sangale was the favourite lion of most of the Lion Guardians, because he was very big, he had a large mane and was very magestic. Also, we had been tracking him and trying to conserve him for some time. As there are not that many lions here, it is easy to get attached to them when you are searching for them all day!
    The lions move around between our ranch, the nearby national parks, and neighbouring ranches, and their movement depends on the season and availability of prey here. Right now we only have 5 lions on the ranch, sometimes we can have as many as 20, but we think the area should be able to hold double that. The group ranch we work on is 1,200 square kilmotres. Currently there are 3 cubs on the ranch. There are some black rhino nearby that are endangered.
    Hope I have answered all your questions!

  • Chris J says:

    Surprised to learn you have more Guardians than lions at present! Let’s hope that soon changes.
    How old are the cubs?

  • Chris says:

    Hey Chris J. That’s why these guys are so important. 150 lions in this area have been killed in the last few years and since the Guardians have been going, there have been none.

  • Today there are 7 lions on the ranch (yesterday there were 5). There are no physical boundaries between these areas, so the lions come and go.

  • Chris J says:

    Is there anything that would particularly attract animals to the ranch, like a watering hole?
    It’s amazing that so many former hunters have been persuaded to turn their backs on such deep-rooted traditions. Do many people argue against these new ideas?

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