Masai Mara lion killing case to go for mediation

Olobor. [Courtesy]

A case by an American lion enthusiast against Kenya Wildlife Service over the rampant killing of lions in the Masai Mara National Reserve has been referred for mediation.

Justice Mogeni Anne Jackeline on Monday directed that the file be returned to the Deputy Registrar of Environment and Lands Court for the appointment of a mediator.

The judge noted that the case is sensitive and of global importance and should be held outside the courtroom to allow interested parties to participate.

The court directed that the petition by Louis Franco proceed through a community hearing at the site where a lion named Olobor was killed.

A report of the mediation, the judge directed, will be filed in court and adopted as the judgment of the court.

Franco, through lawyer David Kipruto, filed the suit at the Environment and Lands Court in Nairobi last month.

He named Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Tourism CS, and the Attorney General as respondents.

He said KWS had failed to fulfil its mandate and duty under the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, of 2013.

According to his petition, early this year social media platforms were awash with information about the killing of Olobor from the ‘Black Rock Pride’ by pastoralists.

The ‘Black Rock Pride’ is one of the most documented and studied lion prides in the Masai Mara and Africa. Black Rock Pride territory spans more than 60 kilometres, touching Serengeti National Park in Tanzania.

Franco says the death of Olobor is not isolated as two other famous lions of the Mara, Logol and Half-Tail of the Mash pride and Nyekundo of the Enkoyanai lion coalition have been killed by pastoralists.

He claims KWS has failed to retrieve the remains of Olobor and give it a proper burial.

He alleges that there are gross violations of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, of 2013, specifically about the conservation and protection of wildlife within National Parks and Reserves under the purview of the KWS.

According to him, KWS has a statutory obligation to enforce rules, including but not limited to the reprehensible acts of killing and maiming wildlife.

The targeted killing of lions within the confines of protected areas by pastoralists, he said, constitute blatant transgressions against the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013.

He said the killing of lions occurs as a result of herding of cattle inside parks at night. He added that the killings pose a threat to the lions’ population.

Livestock herding within the parks, he said, should be prohibited in strict adherence to the statutory mandate of KWS under the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013.

Further, he said the park should be fortified against unauthorised access.

He also wants the court to order KWS and Tourism Cabinet Secretary to retrieve the remains of Olobor and accord it a proper burial at Masai Mara.

The case will be mentioned on April 24, for the appointment of a mediator.