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.
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.
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.
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.
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.