Do you comprehend the fact that the world’s oldest lion, believed to be a Kenyan, passed away after being pierced by warriors of the Maasai tribe once it wandered into a livestock pen?
Wildlife officials state that reports of wild animals straying into urban areas in Kenya have been growing in recent years, due to the pressure from urbanization in ancient migration and hunting zones.
Loonkito, a renowned 19-year-old male lion, was rendered defenseless against Maasai morans or warriors who speared the already vulnerable big cat. According to Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) spokesperson Paul Jinaro, Loonkito was an aged lion that had issues with obtaining prey on its own, and that livestock was an effortless target.
African lions, particularly those in the wild, typically survive up to 18 years, as per conservation group Cats for Africa. Loonkito was described by KWS in 2021 as a “legendary big cat warrior” who had defended his territory for over a decade, and was eulogised by conservation group Lion Guardians as “a symbol of resilience and coexistence.”
The non-profit organisation wrote on Facebook that it was with heavy hearts that they shared the news of Loonkito’s passing, as he was the oldest male lion in their ecosystem and possibly in Africa.
Reports of wildlife invading human settlements in Kenya have increased in recent years due to the animals’ exposure to growing urbanization. In July 2021, for example, a lion caused panic after wandering from Nairobi National Park into a crowded neighbourhood at morning rush hour.
The park is just seven kilometres from the city centre, and incidents of animals escaping the grassy plains and wandering into the metropolis, which has more than four million people, are not unheard of.
It’s essential to raise public awareness on how to inform authorities if wild animals are seen off their habitat, and then they can be relocated back to parks. Kenya’s first-ever national wildlife census conducted in 2021 estimates that there are about 2,500 lions in the country.