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Lions Killed in the Maasai Steppe

  • 01/21/09
  • Paul

Two lions were speared to death in the Maasai Steppe Heartland, and two others escaped but were badly injured. Bernard Kissui, AWF's lion researcher in this part of northern Tanzania, reports:

"While on our routine lion tracking activities in the morning of 29th Dec. 2008 we found the remains of a collared female lion from our study pride called Altipiano. We named this female Jazlin. Jazlin was speared to death the previous day about 3km inside Tarangire Park’s Northwestern border. The remains had multiple spear wounds all over the body.

[caption id="attachment_396" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="A research lion killed in retaliation for killing a cow."]A research lion killed in retaliation for killing a cow.[/caption]

"We visited the nearby Minjingu village and got 2 information about a second lion that was speared to death. This was a young male about 3.5 years old from the same pride. Two other lions were fortunate to escape the killing, but they were probably injured, and we have not been able to determine their fate."

According to reports from Minjingu village, the killings were were prompted after the lions attacked a cow and calf. Both cow and calf survived, but the calf died a few hours after the incident.

A total of 12 lions were killed in retaliation for livestock predation during 2008 alone. The killing of lions resulting from human-wildlife conflict is pummeling the entire lion population. In Bernard's study area, lions numbers have declined by 15-20% over the past five years.

Bernard writes: "As the human population increases in the Maasai Steppe, migratory lions are forced to navigate through an increasingly complex maze of human settlement and livestock. Under these circumstances livestock predation might be expected to escalate. Concerted effort by all stakeholders in wildlife conservation is therefore needed to resolve this complex problem."

In response, Bernard is working with livestock keepers to reduce lion predation. Using chain-link fencing to reinforce the enclosures, or bomas, where the livestock is kept at night, has shown to be quiet effective against predators. Bernard says there is great interest among pastoralists to participate in this program.

[caption id="attachment_395" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="One of the predator proof bomas to help reduce lion predation on livestock."]One of the predator proof bomas to help reduce lion predation on livestock.[/caption]

About the Author

Paul began with AWF based in Nairobi for a year, before moving to Washington DC. Paul has worked at the Madrid Aquarium and at The Marine Mammal Center in the Marin Headlands outside San Francisco. He was born in New Zealand but grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Paul received his B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Management at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment. He is a member of the Emerging Wildlife Conservation Leadership initiative and is working on a conservation campaign to combat the illegal trade of Asian pangolins. Paul enjoys photography, travel, hikes in the woods, music, and nyama choma.

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