Maasai morans kill another lion as outrage mounts over KWS action

Another lion was killed by villagers in Oloshaki village Kitengela, Kajiado county on 31st March 2016. The marauding lion which is the second to be killed in two days had killed a cow. KWS took away the cacasess. PHOTO: PETERSON GITHAIGA
Maasai morans have speared a lion to death, only a day after Kenya Wildlife Service wardens gunned down another one.

Yesterday's slaying of the "King of the Jungle" in a remote village in Kajiado County came as anger mounted over the killing on Wednesday, of Mohawk the lion in Isinya, also in Kajiado.

The morans killed the lion after it killed a cow at Oloshaki village.

According to villagers who spoke to The Standard, the lion was given a chance to have its last meal — the cow it had just killed — before more than 50 morans set upon it with their spears and snuffed out its life.

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"Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) personnel arrived a few hours later in two vehicles and took the carcass away," said a witness who did not want to be named.

A KWS helicopter was seen hovering over the place where the lion was killed but later flew away.

KWS head of corporate affairs Paul Gathitu said last evening that their officers collected the carcass of the lion nicknamed Lemek in a riverbed. The carcass, he said, bore multiple spear wounds.

He said the organisation had earlier received reports that three lions had been sighted in the area. It deployed search units on air and land, but they could not trace any of the lions. Later, they went to the riverbed and found Lemek dead.

As the morans celebrated their "victory", leaders and members of the public condemned the killing, a day before, of Mohawk, another stray lion, in Isinya by KWS rangers.

Isinya Deputy County Commissioner David Kipkimei said it was wrong for the officers to kill the animal arguing that rangers had ample time to contain it and take it back to the park.

The administrator said that for more than five hours, residents, regular police officers and rangers had contained the animal, waiting for the KWS doctor to arrive, only for the armed rangers to open fire.

"This is not real, we were there for more than five hours. We were amazed to see KWS officers shooting the lion after all this waiting,'' he said.

His sentiments were echoed by Sholinge/Olosirkon Ward MCA Daniel Kanchori.

Mr Kanchori appealed to KWS to control the movement of lions from Nairobi National Park to avert more killings.

"Kenya is a tourism destination. If we kill all the lions in this park what will happen to the economy of our country? he posed.

Ahmed Abdi Wais, 81, who said he once worked as a pilot for Royal National Park (now Nairobi National Park) said it was despicable for KWS, which is charged with safeguarding wildlife, to kill the lion.

Evans Murigi Muhoro suffered injuries to his back and hands after he was attacked by Mohawk.

He was rushed to the Isinya Sub-County Hospital where doctors said he was out of danger.

Yesterday, witnesses recounted Mohawk's last moments and accused KWS officers of needlessly cutting shot its life.

KWS rangers from Kajiado office, witnesses say, arrived at the scene two hours after the 13-year-old lion was spotted and three hours later sprayed it with ten bullets.

Huge Crowd

KWS says the lion got agitated by the noise from the huge crowd that had gathered there, forcing the wardens to "put it down" to avoid endangering lives.

Before then, however, a witness claims that the officers administered a single dart of "ineffective" half-filled tranquilizer, which made the lion to "sleep" for an hour as the rangers watched.

Residents yesterday wondered why KWS did not send veterinary officers quickly enough to sedate the animal and pave way for its repatriation.

It would have taken at most five minutes to fly the vets from the KWS hangar at Wilson Airport to the scene where the lion had strayed into the village, a few kilometres from the Kiserian-Isinya road.

Gathitu, KWS spokesperson, said the situation was not thought to be dire enough to warrant a helicopter to be dispatched from the Nairobi office. The Kajiado office does not have veterinary officers, KWS said.

"It is the public that became uncontrollable which made the rangers to be forced to shoot the animal. However, the plan was to calm it until the veterinary personnel arrived at the scene," said Gathitu.

The veterinarians never got to the scene as the animal was killed while they were on their way.

He added that officers at the scene had tried to contain the situation, but the public armed with crude weapons threatened to kill the animal claiming it was notorious in killing their livestock.

KWS Communications Director Paul Udoto said though the killing was regrettable, it was meant to avert human deaths and injuries. "It was a last resort," he said.

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stray lionskenya wildlife service (kws)kajiado county