Lion Guardians Coordinator Eric writes on a very sad day for Lion Guardians:

My fear has been validated, and I have some very sad news to report. A beautiful lioness called Narika, who has 3 cubs less than a month old has been speared to death. We received this devastating news after our Lion Guardians team, Maasailand Preservation Trust game scouts and KWS rangers have succeeded in stopping a series of lion hunting parties, all of which were in retaliation for livestock depredation. But this time we were powerless to stop it. Here is the beautiful lioness Narika.

 speared lioness narika

Two goats were killed by a lioness in Orngosua, one of the conflict-prone zones in Mbirikani Group Ranch. Our Lion Guardians and MPT managed to calm the situation, as we have done in the past, but this time political incitement made the situation very different. This time, the leadership of the group ranch was involved and all Lion Guardians and MPT game scouts were threatened and forbidden from working by group ranch officials. There was nothing they could do. Lion Guardians and MPT scouts were forced to stand down, and in their absence the situation quickly spiralled out of control.

By around noon the next day, the morans (warriors) and all other able-bodied men were out on a mission, while the frustrated and worried Lion Guardians and Game scouts were prevented from their work.

The morans followed the tracks of the lioness that had come to the bomas and found her peacefully resting under a tree. They chased her for about 500 metres, and on hearing their war cries she became angry and waited for them. Morans armed with spears surrounded her inside a thicket. She managed to put up a fight but she was clearly fighting a losing battle. She was killed by two spears through the heart and head. The hunting party removed her tail, paws and ears for celebration as is their traditional custom. They also removed her Living with Lions collar, destroyed it, and probably buried it underground. In any case, it is nowhere to be found.

Narika's carcass

An intensive ground operation ensued on news of a rumoured lion kill and KWS arrived at the site where the lioness was killed. When I saw the body of Narika missing some parts, it weighed strongly on my heart. Only a few days ago I had been watching her in the bush, tenderly caring for her 3 tiny cubs. The fate of these cubs, barely 4 weeks old, is clearly in the hands of the almighty, and the remaining pride members – Selenkay, Elikan and Lomunyak, the mighty male. Narika was the leader of the three lionesses who all have small cubs of around the same age. She was the strongest of the group and so beautiful by all accounts. She roams Mbirikani no more.

 Narika_2009_Sep_03 (3)

The imbalance between predators and plains game created by the last prolonged drought is resulting in high predation of livestock by lions and high tension. This calls for close co-operation between stakeholders within the ecosystem. As we wait for the law to take its own course with regards to the killing, it is my sincere hope that the situation will calm down quickly. But unless we address community tolerance towards lions, the fate of this pride with cubs will still be far from secure. Here is a photo of Narika with a cow she had killed on a previous occasion.

Narika eating cow

 All the Lion Guardians are terribly sad right now as there was nothing that they could do to stop these morans, if they were to remain unharmed themselves. This is the first time in three years that the Lion Guardians have been forced to stop working and it seems that this is the sad result.

Since Narika’s death, Lomunyak has been heard roaring through the day, calling to his lost pride member.


  • Marisa says:

    This is horrific and barbaric. I am deeply saddended to hear of such a tragedy. I truly belive what goes around comes around and that they find the same fate.

  • PaulaB says:

    This is so sad, and so worrying that you were prevented from doing your job of protecting this beautiful lioness. I do hope that matters improve and you will be able to continue your wonderful efforts to persuade the local people not to take revenge on these animals when they kill livestock.

  • sharon white says:

    This is so sad!
    It’s such a shame that there it is difficult for the local tribes and the predators to live in harmony.
    It’s even more horrific because you were stopped from doing your job and could have saved her and no doubt her cubs!
    I hope at least the rest of the pride shall care for them.

  • sauwah says:

    this is really sad for the lioness and definitely her cubs along with her now smaller or weaker pride. it is hard to blame on those whose once owned the goats and cows ( assuming the owners did a good job taking care of their cows/goats ). if the kenyan government really wants to keep the kenyan lions alive and well for the future generation, they must compensate all loss by predators and have a workable plan on land/water use as humans increasingly invading the lion’s domain and poaching the lion’s food source.
    lastly why there is no rescue organization for these helpless lion cubs whose mother was killed? since there are people kind enough and care enough to rescue orphan elephants whose mothers have died from natural courses instead of man made. and lions in the whole africa is facing true extinction while elephant’s number exceed half a million. i guess the leaders of that community were the ones whose livestock had been taken. maybe that was why they stopped any life saving mission by the Lion Guardians.

  • Victoria Garcia says:

    Awful ! I’m terribly sad ! poor girl !
    and the little cubs ? certainly no chance to survive. I can’t believe it. I’m terribly sad, but also angry.Why the little ones could’nt be rescued as babies elephants ? It’s so hard to hear news like this…

  • Anne C says:

    I am deeply saddened by this news – it is heart breaking. I know that the guardians did everything they could. I hope they don’t blame themselves in any way, and instead can somehow focus on all the good they have done over the years and the good they will continue to do in the future. For me, it just highlights again how important the work is that you are doing. You’re all in my prayers -Anne

  • Brenton H says:

    Shocking news. We are thinkimg of you Lion Guardians and support your work to the utmost.

  • Pirjo says:

    I just wrote a comment on Baraza blog and I’m still too furious to say what really is in my mind.. Kenyan government officials have to act now and start taking responsibility over saving the precious wildlife. I can’t help it, but in situations where a wild animal is killed this way, I can not feel anything but anger towards the men who killed her. Humans have taken over too much habitat/land from wildlife and it just can’t go on like this..

  • dawn says:

    This has crushed me to the core.. Its a sad fate, that no animal deserves. Lion Guardians, your doing a great job, please dont loose hope, failure can be looked upon as a steping stone to great sucess. Karma is the ultimate bitch.

  • This is very sad news. We must all join hands to stop this…

  • Irma says:

    It’s not only that this conflicts get fueled by too many people living close to parks leading to shrinking wildlife habitat.
    It’s also these Massai people obviously don’t understand what impact their actions have onto the whole lion population.
    The government should put severe imprisonment to those who kill lions and other big cats.
    Massai and other trives have to understand there is more at stake than just a cow or goat!
    Also compensation should be paid for any lifestock loss.
    There is sufficient money coming into the country. But obviously it isn’t spent wisely and certainly not in the wildlife’s interest.

  • Pirjo says:

    I just don’t seem to get over these bad news and have felt extremely sad the whole day. As I’ve been to Kenya and have seen these beautiful animals in their natural habitat it makes things even worse for me.. One feels totally helpless with situations such as this.

    Eric, is there any possibility that the cubs would be taken care of by the other lactating lionesses in the group or are they doomed to die?

    Who are the officials that one could get in contact with in order to protest the lion killings? I would like to get in contact with those people.

  • Massago says:

    I also feel so sad to read this lioness has been killed like that. I believe with effort it is possible to change future but all sides need to be motivated. I don’t agree when some of you are blaming masaï people. When Amboseli National Park has been created, masaïs have been deported outside. How this people can accept to see their livestock to be killed ? Us, we see that from far but for a masaï, livestock is so important.
    Solutions will only come if we work together, if we can propose them a good protection for their livestock and if there is enough prey for lions. I don’t think it is enough to say “I’m so sad, it’s not good or they have to go fo prison”.
    Lions guardians are doing a wonderful work. Let’s help us the more we can. Personnaly, I’ll meet them next time I’ll go to Kenya and we’ll see together what I can do for them.
    I really love lions and lionness, I’ll do all my best to help them.

  • Keith Lindsay says:

    The Lion Guardians are doing fantastic work and, despite this recent very sad setback or indeed because of it, need supporting even more. The dialogue and negotiation with the livestock owners has to continue, even with frustrations, so that solutions can be found. This is the ONLY way forward; moving wildlife around can only treat the symptoms, like giving aspirin to someone with a brain tumour. Protection of livestock, compensation and insurance schemes, participation in planning of waterpoints and fixed settlements, establishment and agreement on protection/ enforcement mechanisms for wildlife; all these and more activities must continue and be given more resources and support from donors and government.

  • Thank you all for your supportive comments. It is possible that Narika’s cubs may be taken care of by Selenkay and Elikan, but we do not know yet. We will certainly update you when we know more. We all really appreciate your support, particularly during this difficult time.

  • Peter Betts says:

    As long as humans BREED without the facilities of education…this is PLAIN SAVAGERY

  • carole says:

    Poor little one…

  • Jeff Spindel says:

    I am saddened to hear this news but I am also inspired by the work that the Lion Guardians are doing. We must all use undesirable incidents like this one as inspirations to continue the compassionate work that the Lion Guardians are doing. Focusing on all the good that is being done by the Lions Guardians is very important when an unfortunate incident like this one happens. We must all stay focused on our vision and forgive those who lack the ability to see the bigger picture !

  • Jeremy Rothfield says:

    I would like to know why the leadership of the group ranch was involved in this nonsense, and what action the police and the KWS are taking. In particular, I would like to hear comment from the KWS director.

  • Richard lolosoli says:

    Very Very sad!

    KWS should move and arrest this guys!in any case we’ve a compensation policy in place!No one is allowed to kill wildlife!this is our JEWEL.For the Guadians keep up the good Job of protecting wildlife.

    • Jose says:

      Actually, the male lion has the most important job of all. While he seems to be lianzyg about, he is simply saving himself. He is called to give his life at anytime for ANYONE in the entire pride. Male lions do not hunt because you can be easily injured of killed in the hunt, and it would be a waste of their time. Male lions are the ONLY ones who can fend off another Male lion (while you can see a bunch of female lions doing it, it only works if there are a bunch of them AND the male lion is not that interested in taking over the pride-otherwise they come in and kill all the babies and mate with all the females no matter what. And the females do it because they have no chance of living through a fight with a full grown male.)The females work in a chohesive unit and the male lion will often guard the cubs or oversee other females doing it while they are out. He is IMMEDIATELY available when called (and you can see this on Animal Planet regularly. One fun one is to watch where the female lions are being out manuvered by some particularly nasty hyena females and they call the male and he literally cuts the hyena leader in half with one blow.). Watching some of the more intersting shows you can actually see the females making requests of the Male lion and their reactions to it. It is funny stuff.Male lions APPEAR laid back because they assess threats. They are in charge because they live a sacrificial life. They get the first dibs on the meal because they will die for everyone there AND no one there could go on living without them.I know this wasn’t the point of your post, but I think it is on topic. Many Women, in particular, react to news with emotions. Husbands are the ones who are tasked with leading this type of sacrificial life for their families. I would rather a Husband listen to God then his wife and many wives screw things up by over reacting in an emotional fashion on this issue. I know this from my own life. A Friend

  • It is good reading about this sad situation and some of the most unfortunate comments.
    Some are borne of simple ignorance, other emotional while others are just outright arrogant and their views misplaced.
    Wildlife is ecologically critical, an environmental component necessary for balance, an important natural resource and an economic entity that justifies its own existence.
    Maasai people have never quite been a real threat to wildlife. They have coexisted with them so naturally the relationship puzzles many communities worldwide. Because of fraudulent misappropriation of maasailand and the historic injustices that continue to live the maasai vulnerable and poor the inevitable human wildlife conflict now rears its ugly head. With land continuing to shrink, pasture shrinks too and the perennial long dry spells are making things worse. To compound this already bad situation, 80% revenues raised from tourism, a wildlife based economic sector that is outgrowing most other sectors in East Africa today goes to central government leaving those that suffer the brand of the wildlife human conflict simply licking their wounds without compensation. And that brings us to the unfortunate killing of the lioness with small cubs. So what is the solution. This nauseating and unwarranted vilification of the maasai for protecting their meager source of livelihood? We hope NOT!
    The lion protectors initiative is commendable and need to be strengthened. However, that is a mere stop gap measure and more need be done in the area of fully involving the communities neighboring wildlife areas in the conservation of their habitats and the environment generally and preservation of wildlife in particular. This must as a matter of course include requisite sharing of generated revenues within the local areas akin to plough back of tea and coffee cess to help local area infrastructural development. So stop being ambivalent on this great debate or seat on the fence and if you are not sure of what to do, work with the maasai on how best to improve the situation and protect the natural resource for posterity. Will you be on the side of bad governance that brought about this sad situation by neglecting enhance a great wildlife human time tested relationship or be with the down trodden local communities who like you love wild animals and literally live with them sharing all the scarce resources of water and pasture?
    Wildlife lovers should work with the maasai in Amboseli/Tsavo and all other ecological systems neighboring wildlife sanctuaries for meaningful outcomes: Such conflicts can only be mitigated through proper management of such resources without an interest group being unfairly marginalized as is currently the case. About two years ago president Kibaki promised to return Amboseli to the management of the local Olkejuado County Council as is the case previously. It was billed as the riches county council in Kenya and such unfortunate occurrences were a rarity and Lion and other species numbers in the park were not under threat of extinction as seen today. This writer is a proud recipient of the largese of the said County Council while at High school at the time.
    People like Mike Rainy would make for good role models in the local communities on the importance and good management of wildlife. I recommend the likes of Keith Lindsay who share our vision and the better way forward join him as we build a maasai/partners of goodwill caucus to help develop this debate further and take initiative to the next level. Corrupt central government must be told to stop impunity and meaningfully address what ails the environment conservation and wildlife protection and preservation business. This must be immediate or else we all shall have nothing to debate about in the next few years. The local communities are simply pushed to the wall and this must stop. The maasai intend to name and shame all pseudo conservationist doting local wildlife conservation areas but do very little other than heavily lining their pockets at expense of the local people and the wildlife they purport to conserve! Association of Maa Abroad/AMAA call on the maa people to help conserve our heritage and ask all people of goodwill to help build local capacity to conserve wildlife for posterity. Both livestock and wildlife, including lions, are a treasure we all should be proud of and balance for the good of all.


  • Beverly Garland says:

    My heart goes out to the Lion Guardians who had to endure this sad loss that might have been averted. I also acknowledge the anguish, hardship and fear that must have driven good men to retaliate on this beautiful lion. I applaud the Lion Guardians for their always-compassionate approach to working on behalf of wildlife with the herdsmen, while honoring people’s concerns for their livelihoods. Love for all concerned will be the lasting solution.

  • kores ole Musuni says:

    We all need to conserve wildlife and nature,Lion gurdians keep up the good job, but also the concerned authorities should map out strategies of protecting the locals and their cattle from having their livestock eaten by lions, we need both the livestock and the wildlife.

    Kores ( Solo)

  • peter Lai says:

    I feel so sad to hear that, can’t believe people would do this kind of things to a beautiful lion, hope their cubs can make it……

  • Very Very sad !!!!!
    I was in February still in the area and was able to photograph lions. This is also my article on the problem
    Thank you for your work to protect the lions.
    Best regards from germany
    Uwe + Dani

  • Sonja says:

    As upset and disheartened as I am about the killing of this lioness, I feel I must refrain from giving typical westerner pleas over the tragedy and condemnations of the men who killed her. Is it any different that people in the United States retaliating against urban wildlife who trespass on our homes and gardens or take fright at transient coyotes, bears, cougar, or even wolves? We should not be so quick to scorn those who kill lions out of what they see as a necessity, just as those who kill American wildlife kill out of what they see as a necessity. Just because we see lions as majestic, romantic beasts does not change the fact that many Maasai genuinely fear and begrudge the lion, and for good reason.

    I am in no way condoning the killing of this lion. Lions are my most favorite animals, and it hurts to see these dwindling animals destroyed and hacked to pieces without dignity. I encourage the Lion Guardians in all their work and remain confident that with the continuation of education and thoughtful mediation, we can overcome these challenges.

    Thank you for your work, Lion Guardians, and best wishes.

  • Thank you all for your heartfelt comments. We really appreciate your support.

  • Caitlin says:

    Keep up the challenging work, Lion Guardians. The maasai, the lions, the world all need your talents and passion to make sure there is a harmonious solution to all stakeholders. I am sorry, dear lioness, we will miss you. Your spirit will guide the solutions.

  • Sookie says:

    Why do the Maasai not get dogs to protect the livestock. Strong guard dogs. No lion would dare go near with a guard dog. I would love to arrange it for the Maasai people if they wanted to utalize dogs who were bred to guard livestock & of course affection every day. The dogs would be free and all they would need is food and water. No great expense for the family.

  • Jayne Lister says:

    Such sad news, we cannot stand to loose any lions now, especially here.
    Please lets hope that a tolerance/truce can be reached amongst the locals. What about compensation in that area?
    Strength to you guys that have to see this sort of thing all too often.
    Don’t let it get you down, you must keep protecting the other’s.

  • liz thompson says:

    How very sad, surely if they live in an area with wild animals that hunt they must accept that the occasional live stock will fall prey to these animals…..My condolences to all who carry out this great work protecting the lions, it is a shame that your hands were tied in this matter and were unable to help.

  • Jodie says:

    This is disgusting and barbaric, is there anything anyone can do to stop this? Who do they think they are? We are all animals and out of every animal that hunts and kills we are by far the only ones that are barbaric and heartless. So sad. We should be protecting what the world gave us.

  • Tamsyn says:

    We as humans are in the wrong, we are destroying the ecosystem with all our pollution and we forget that WE are moving closer and closer into THEIR natural habitate, that lioness did not deserve to die in such a cruel way.

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