A Close Call for Nalotuesha

Recently, Guardian Lupembe played a critical role in saving the lives of several lions. Below, our community manager Eric Ole Kesoi explains what happened.

In 2019, four calves from a Maasai community beyond our borders got lost out in the bush. Locals from the community convened to look for them, and Guardian Lupembe came across some of these searchers in his zone as he was out tracking lions. Since part of Lupembe’s duty as a Guardian is to protect lost livestock regards of who it belongs to, he inquired where the calves got lost. When he heard the response, he instinctively knew that they might have been killed by the lions he had reported in that area the previous day. Lupembe went straight to the area, where he found that the four calves had been killed by lions, and he duly informed the owners. 

Guardian Lupembe

As soon as we got word at our camp that the calves were dead, several members of the Lion Guardians team set out for the area because we knew that the consequences of depredations along that particular boundary could be deadly. We met Lupembe, and once we arrived at the carcasses, we were met with a strong, pungent smell. On closer scrutiny, we saw yellowish particles sprinkled on the calves’ bodies – they had been poisoned. It turned out that after Lupembe had informed the owners of the calves’ deaths, the owners had gone to see the carcasses and had laced them with poison before fleeing the scene.

Although poisonings are rare in our operating area, they are still a significant issue outside our boundaries, which means that the lions in our ecosystem remain at risk.

We knew the lions were nearby, and we had to act quickly to ensure that they didn’t consume the poisoned calves. It turns out that they were lying in wait, eagerly awaiting our departure so they could return to the carcasses and feast. Alongside Lupembe, we mock hunted the lions, chasing them deep into our operating area to try to keep them safe both from the poison and from further retaliation. Finally, we loaded all the carcasses onto our vehicle, carried them away, and – after consultations with other conservation stakeholders in the ecosystem – we burned the carcasses in order to ensure that no animals would come into contact with the poison.

That day, we were able to save the lives of three lions: Nalotuesha, a first-time mother who dispersed out from the Selenkay Pride (and who used to visit our camp with her sisters to drink water and play with mops and buckets!), and her two subadult daughters Norbak and Norkiu.

The lovely – and playful – Nalotuesha.

And, of course, through these actions, future generations of Nalotuesha’s lineage were likely saved as well, in addition to numerous other animals that might have been affected by the poison, all because of a vigilant Guardian who did exactly what a Lion Guardian should do. We are so proud of Lupembe and all our other passionate and diligent Guardians, who truly do make a difference in the world.

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