NAIROBI, Kenya: June 29 (Xinhua) — At least one lion was killed and three people seriously injured on Thursday night in another wildlife human conflict in the east African nation of Kenya, wildlife officials said on Friday.
Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) Corporate Affairs Manager Paul Udoto said three Maasai morans who had since been admitted at the local hospital had mobilized themselves to pursue a pride of lions that had mauled a cow in the Elangata Ngima area of Kuku Group Ranch in Loitokitok, south of Nairobi.
“They were seriously injured while pursuing the pride of lions, ” Udoto said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
Last week, angry residents in Kitengela village in the outskirts of Nairobi speared to death a total of six lions. The wildlife body said it has launched investigations to ascertain the cause of the deaths and also dispatched rangers and a veterinary capture teams to search for the lions who escaped during the incident.
KWS had condemned the acts, saying some communities are still engaging in the age old practice of killing lions in order to show their prowess but it results in loss of precious resource for the country. Meanwhile, Udoto said a suspected poacher was killed on Thursday during a fierce gunfight with KWS rangers in Laikipia Nature Conservancy in central Kenya.
“An AK 47 rifle was recovered at the scene while his accomplice escaped with injuries. The rangers were responding to gunshots within the ranch when they encountered two suspected poachers,” Udoto said.
He said the rangers are looking for an elephant which was injured by the suspected poachers and that a major manhunt for the suspect who fled is also underway.
At the same time, he said a lion which had strayed from the same conservancy and which has been roaming in Baringo County of Rift Valley is still being monitored by KWS team of rangers and capture personnel.
“We call upon members of the public to desist from killing wild animals and instead report to KWS as wild animals can be very dangerous,” Udoto said.
However, KWS said the renewed anti-poaching operations has borne fruit as the number of elephants lost to poachers has dropped from a high of 36 a month in January to 16 in April.
According to the wildlife agency, the country has lost nine lions and four elephants since January due to conflicts with people. Data from KWS also indicated total wildlife mortality resulting from human wildlife conflict since January is 50, including 26 primates.
The east African nation has been losing 100 lions a year for the past seven years, leaving the country with just 2,000 of its famous big cats, meaning that the country could have no wild lions at all in 20 years. Conservationists have blamed habitat destruction, disease and conflict with humans for the lion population decline.
The number of elephants has reduced from a high of 160,000 in 1970s to below 30,000. KWS said between the 1970s and 1980s Kenya lost over 80 percent of her elephants, mainly due to intensive poaching of elephants for ivory.
Also affected are the black rhinos whose number declined from 20,000 in 1970 to current 577 in 2011. (Xinhua)