Herders kill 6 stray lions from Amboseli National Park after 'night of terror'

amboseli lions killed

One of lions that herders killed in Kajiado South on May 13, 2023, following what they said was a night of terror after a pride of 11 strayed from Amboseli National Park. 

Photo credit: Stanley Ngotho | Nation Media Group

Irate herders killed six lions in Kajiado South Sub-county on Saturday morning, following an attack by a pride of lions in the nearby Nashipa village.

Reports indicated that a pride of 11 lions - 10 adults and a cub - wandered into the village on Friday night from the Amboseli National Park, in search of food. They attacked a homestead and killed 11 sheep and a dog in what residents described as a night of terror.

"The wild cats were charged. Attempts by the homeowner to scare them away were futile. The animals [which were killed] were the lucky ones as they survived the recent drought," said a villager who did not want to be named.

On Saturday morning, dozens of locals armed with spears tracked the lions and killed six of them. Most of the carcasses had arrows and spears in them.

The lions were killed at the Big Life Foundation headquarters within a private conservancy bordering the Amboseli park. They retreated to the foundation’s premises after wandering into the village.

For the whole of Saturday afternoon, officers from the Kenya Wildlife Service, the local administration and Big Life, as well as other stakeholders were holed up in a heavily guarded crisis meeting at the foundation’s headquarters.

Attempts to reach KWS spokesperson Teresia Igiria were futile as she had neither responded to calls nor replied text messages by press time.

amboseli lions killed

A lion killed by herders in Kajiado South on the morning of May 13, 2023, after a pride of 11 strayed into a village and killed 11 sheep and a dog.

Photo credit: Stanley Ngotho | Nation Media Group

In a statement on the incident, Big Life's Executive Chairman Richard Bonham said the lions were killed at Mbirikani Ranch.

"Community wildlife rangers responded immediately, pushing the lions away from the homestead, but they moved into Big Life Foundation’s fenced headquarters nearby," Mr Bonham said. 

"Big Life Foundation staff were able to push 3 of the lions out of the premises during the night and they moved away from the town, but the other 6 remained inside."

Amid plans for the translocations of the lions, the villagers attacked. 

Mr Bonham said the attackers numbered 60-80 and that many of them were armed with spears.

"Any intervention by KWS, the Kenya Police Service, or Big Life Foundation would have risked escalation of an extremely volatile situation, and likely human injury or death," he said.

The incident comes barely two days after the oldest lion in Amboseli was shot with an arrow and killed, at the age of 19 years.

The male lion named "Loonkito" was speared to death in a night attack by herders at Olkelunyiet village after it preyed on livestock. The village borders Amboseli National Park towards Kimana town.

According to reliable sources who spoke to the Nation in confidence on Wednesday, the aged, frail lion strayed out of the park into the village in search of food. The sources said the animal was alone having wandered away from a pride it protected in its heyday.

Loonkito reigned over a big pride of lionesses and cubs until  2017 when he began to live a desolate life

In 2017, his brother Ambogga, died in a territorial fight in which Loonkito was badly injured, becoming too weak to preserve his territory and protect his family.

Cases of locals killing lions and other wildlife in the vast Kajiado County are not new. In 2012, residents killed six lions that had mauled 28 livestock in Kitengela, on the outskirts of Nairobi.