The World’s Oldest Wild Lion Was Speared To Death Amidst Increasing Human-Wildlife Conflict

The world’s oldest wild lion has died after being speared to death by animal herders. He was 19-years-old at the time of his death.

According to The National, Loonkiito, was killed by Maasai warriors after he was found in a livestock pen on the outskirts of Amboseli National Park.

Photo: Flickr/Kandukuru Nagarjun License: CC BY 2.0

According to the Pittsburgh Zoo, African lions generally live to be 15 to 18-years-old in the wild, while they can reach up to 30 years with proper care.

The non-profit Lion Guardians announced the loss on Facebook, saying:

“It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of the passing of Loonkiito (2004 – 2023), the oldest male lion in our ecosystem and possibly in Africa. He died yesterday, on the 10th of May 2023 at 19 years old. He was a symbol of resilience and coexistence. We at Lion Guardians feel privileged to have borne witness to his life and his legacy.”

According to Global News, Kenya Wildlife Service spokesman Paul Jinaro said, “It was an old lion that had issues … getting prey on its own and livestock is easy prey. A normal lion would go for wildlife inside the park.”

Unfortunately, the incident isn’t isolated. Just three days after Loonkiito’s murder, the Kenya Wildlife Service shared a press release on Facebook, saying that over the past week alone, herders killed a total of ten lions in the Amboseli ecosystem, with six lions being slain in one day. The lions were reportedly targeting goats and a dog.

Photo: Flickr/Ninara License: CC BY 2.0

According to the IUCN, African lions are considered “vulnerable” and their populations are only decreasing. It’s believed there are less than 4,000 lions left as human activity continues to threaten them.

The IUCN lists housing development, farming, hunting, logging, civil unrest, and pollution as the major threats to lions.

The Kenya Wildlife Service claims they’re working to find “lasting solutions that will address the conflict while protecting both human lives and wildlife,” though nothing can undue the deaths of Loonkiito or the other nine lions that were killed.

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