A young male lion was one of three members of Kenya’s famous Marsh Pride to die in 2015 after eating a cow carcass that Maasai herders had laced with carbosulfan, an insecticide. The lions had killed several cows. Photo: Charlie Hamilton James / National Geographic

By Edwin Dobb
4 August 2018

(National Geographic) – Two male lions had been killing cattle and goats for weeks. The Maasai herdsmen in Kenya’s Osewan region had seen enough.

Solve the problem by Christmas, the Maasai told the Kenya Wildlife Service in late December last year, or we’ll solve it for you. “We know how to kill lions,” one young Maasai warrior said in Swahili during a heated community meeting, and he didn’t mean only the spears that he and his fellow Maasai carry. He also meant poison, now a weapon of choice for herders who see lions as threats to their livelihood rather than the national symbols the wildlife service tries to protect.

Kenneth Ole Nashuu, a senior warden with KWS, as people call the wildlife service, decided that the best solution was to relocate the lions from Osewan, north of Amboseli National Park, where they’d come in contact with grazing livestock, to a neighboring national park, Tsavo West. But first they had to be tranquilized.

On Christmas Eve night Ole Nashuu and other rangers were joined by Luke Maamai, from the conservation group Lion Guardians. They climbed into a Land Cruiser, drove to a clearing in the bush, and parked. Under a big, bright moon, with lights off, they waited for the rogue predators—young brothers—to appear. […]

Contrary to the warden’s theory about disrupted prides, the remaining male continued to prey on livestock. This time herdsmen—possibly not local—didn’t seek outside help. They poisoned the male and the other female by lacing a goat or cow carcass with chemicals that killed the lions after they fed on the dead animal. By the time KWS heard about it and sent a veterinarian to investigate, the lions’ bodies had rotted. [more]

Why Poison Is a Growing Threat to Africa’s Wildlife

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