Poisoning Of Famed Pride in Kenya Shows Why Lions Are In Trouble

Conservationists have called for justice after several members of a famed pride of lions were poisoned in retribution for killing cattle.

At least three lions of the Marsh Pride, a family living in Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve, have died due to the poisoning, which scientists say will likely impact dozens of animals throughout the park. The pride was well known to local safari guides and starred in the BBC series “Big Cat Diary.

Retribution killings are different to other threats, like poaching and hunting, because people who lose livestock carry them out specifically in retaliation. Many ranchers would rather kill the predators than try to live around them, as livestock can reflect a significant investment for traditional farmers.

Anne K. Taylor, a grantee with the National Geographic Big Cats Initiative in the Mara reserve, said the conflict is a daily issue that’s only gotten worse in recent years. Expanding herds of livestock have compelled Masai farmers to illegally graze their animals inside the reserve where they displace native animals, like zebra and impala. Lions, lacking traditional pray, hunt the easy-to-kill cattle .

“I’m furious because I understand the loss of cows is really hard,” Taylor said. “But to do what these people did, it’s unacceptable.”

Through her work as a BCI grantee and with her eponymous fund, Taylor has helped ranchers install more than 800 fences to protect livestock from predation. But a reduction in traditional grazing ground has led to the foray into the reserve where fences don’t help.

“It has become the norm for tens of thousands of cattle to come into the reserve at night, where in the old days this only happened under conditions of extreme drought,” zoologist Jonathan Scott told National Geographic.

The most recent poisoning reflects the —> Read More