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Updated May 14th, 2023 at 20:34 IST

Conservationists report one of Africa's oldest lions, 'Loonkito' killed in Kenya

Loonkito, possibly one of the oldest lions in Africa and the world, has been killed in Kenya at the age of 19, conservation organisation Lion Guardians said.

Digital Desk
Africa’s oldest lion
Image: Instagram/lionguardians_ | Image:self
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The conservation group Lion Guardians has reported that Loonkito, believed to be one of the world's oldest lions, was killed in Kenya at the age of 19. According to the organisation, the lion was killed on Wednesday after entering a livestock pen owned by someone in search of prey as he was "starving" in the middle of the night. The owner of the pen was responsible for the lion's death. He was “the oldest male lion in our ecosystem and possibly in Africa,” said Lion Guardians, which announced his passing “with heavy hearts.”

“He was a symbol of resilience and coexistence. We at Lion Guardians feel privileged to have borne witness to his life and his legacy,” it added. The organisation credits the efforts of local communities who coexist with the big cats for the extended lifespan of older wild lions in the present landscape. The fact that lions are surviving past the age of 10, which was not the case a decade ago, is attributed to the collaborative efforts of the communities.

Cases of lions venturing outside of protected areas increasing

The website of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) states that over the past 50 years, there has been a significant surge in the demand for energy and materials, leading to a situation where humans and lions are in direct competition for space and resources. When the food sources of lions are depleted, they may travel long distances, sometimes outside protected areas, in search of prey, which can put them in conflict with human communities. In such situations, lions may target livestock, which poses a risk to the community. In retaliation or to prevent conflict, farmers often resort to killing the lions.

Loonkito was unfortunately “caught up in this dynamic,” said Lion Guardians. Due to the worst drought in four decades, Kenya has been going through a challenging time. The organisation has noted that the end of a drought is typically accompanied by an increase in human-lion conflict as wild prey becomes scarce and livestock owners become more cautious after losing many animals. This incident “was a tough situation for both sides, the people and the lion,” it added.

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Published May 14th, 2023 at 20:34 IST

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