Kenya's oldest, iconic lion killed by herders

The oldest and most iconic lion, named Lonkiito, has been killed by herders in the Amboseli National Park located on the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro.

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) has confirmed the death of the lion which had strayed from its park in search of food amidst the worst-ever drought in over 40 years in Eastern Africa.

KWS spokesperson Paul Jinaro told Anadolu on Friday the lion that died at the age of 19 has been mourned by tourists and conservationists alike.

In a case of human-wildlife conflict, herders in Olkelunyiet village speared the lion on Wednesday night after it posed a threat to their livestock, he added.

Throughout the years, the magnificent lion captivated the lenses of countless tourists, leaving behind cherished memories and a profound legacy.

The lion was renowned among tourists on safari for being one of the most photographed lions.

Human-wildlife conflict has been a persistent challenge in Kenya, with communities living near wildlife habitats experiencing increased encounters and conflicts due to competition for resources, habitat encroachment, and retaliatory killings.

Poaching, both for bush meat and illegal wildlife trade, has also been a significant threat to wildlife populations in the country.

Daniel Sampu, the senior coordinator of Predator Compensation at Big Life Foundation, said: "The incident highlights the alarming level of human-wildlife conflict prevailing in the Amboseli wildlife corridor."

Big Life Foundation is a non-profit conservation organization working to preserve the wildlife and habitats of the Amboseli-Tsavo-Kilimanjaro ecosystem of East Africa through community-based strategies.

Though the local community has peacefully coexisted with wildlife for generations, the recent severe drought has heightened the vigilance of pastoralists who are now fiercely protecting the remaining animals.

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