Eric tells us about the sad second spearing of a lioness on Mbirikani, but brings us the good news that calm is now retuning to the area:
The Maasai community has been known since time immemorial to be completely dependant on their livestock. The love they attach to their livestock is second to none and cannot be measured. It’s their life and soul. The retaliatory killing of lions (termed olikiyoi) by Maasai pastoralists is therefore not something new to anybody familiar with their tradition. In Mbirikani Group Ranch, members have been tolerant of lions for the last 6 years owing to the success of the Predator Compensation Scheme, Maasailand Preservation Trust, Lion Guardians and other conservation approaches. Stakeholders within the Amboseli ecosystem have been very proud of Mbirikani.
However, over the last weeks the peaceful environment has been shattered. After our Lion Guardians team, MPT game scouts and KWS rangers successfully stopped more than 10 lion hunting parties, a political motive drove things out of control. The leadership of the group ranch for reasons as yet unknown, incited members of the communities of Mbirikani to go out and kill lions. Narika, the lioness with 3 cubs was the first to go. As explained in our account of this sad event, the Lion Guardians and MPT scouts had been ordered to stand down by local leadership. Without their critical intervention, the situation was a disaster waiting to happen. Unfortunately, this was not to be the end of the story.
A few days later, the new young moran age group (known as Iltuati) who are soon to come through to full moran-hood, took advantage of the political message. They had their own agenda – to prove to all that they are now ready to assume the role of warriors, or morans, a defensive unit for the community.
The group found Mbeuti, a lioness who divides her time between Kuku and Mbirikani Group Ranches. She had her 2 cubs who are 13 months old with her. The morans chased them for about 2km. Thankfully the cubs escaped and Mbeuti managed to put up a fight, seriously injuring one of the morans, but she was eventually killed. We were all devastated. All the 20 culprits were immediately arrested. Here is Mbeuti and her cubs.
The Lion Guardians team, MPT and KWS are currently working to resolve the political impasse that has gripped Mbirikani Group Ranch, and we are pleased to report that things are looking positive, and it seems calm is returning to this previously peaceful area. No lions have been killed here since Mbeuti’s death and we are hoping she was the final victim in this sad episode. We will bring you more news as we can, but as you can imagine this is a very busy time for us. We all very much appreciate your support during this extremely difficult time.