Humans and Lions Clash over Resources in Kenyan National Park
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Humans and Lions Clash over Resources in Kenyan National Park


The recent killing of 10 lions in just one week in May at Kenya’s Amboseli National Park has brought attention to the escalating conflict between humans and wildlife. This conflict arises from the competition for resources and the impact of climate change. Among the slain lions was Loonkiito, a 19-year-old lion and one of Kenya’s oldest.

In certain areas, lion populations overlap with human settlements and livestock grazing zones, leading to frequent negative interactions and conflicts. These conflicts often result in economic losses, threats to human life, and challenges for conservation efforts.

Daniel Ole Sambu, who heads the predator protection program at the Big Life Foundation, explains the threat to the lions’ territory. “Wild animals, including predators, require space,” he says. “However, the subdivision of land and the selling of land for human settlements, along with the growing human population, pose significant challenges. Urbanization, the proliferation of roads, and the installation of power lines further compound the challenge of accommodating numerous predators and herbivores within limited areas.”

Recent rains following a prolonged period of drought have attracted a large number of herbivores that feed on grass near human settlements. This, in turn, draws carnivores like lions who prey on animals such as zebras. Consequently, the likelihood of human-wildlife interactions, which can result in fatalities, increases.

During droughts, lions often venture into livestock pens and kill cattle, exacerbating the conflicts between herders and wildlife.

The World Society for the Protection of Animals has expressed concern that habitat loss and climate change have jeopardized the lion population in the wild, painting a bleak future for these majestic creatures. However, some locals argue that the lions themselves pose a danger.

Parkeru Ntereka, a local herder, shares his perspective, saying, “Since ancient times, we have believed that once a lion invades your home and preys on your cows, it will never forget that your home was a source of food, even after ten years.”

To address the issue, the government and conservation groups, including the Big Life Foundation, have implemented compensation programs for herders whose livestock is killed by wild animals. However, herders have grown increasingly protective of their livestock, particularly after suffering losses during the severe drought that has plagued the East Africa region for decades.

Joel Kirimbu, another herder, criticizes the compensation scheme, stating, “There is a significant disparity between the value of our livestock and the compensation we receive. Cows are expensive and can cost as much as Ksh 80,000. Comparing that to Ksh 30,000 is unfair. The compensation provided is insufficient, which fuels our anger and drives us to retaliate by killing the lions.”

The community has also criticized the lengthy waiting period victims must endure before receiving compensation. Furthermore, the current compensation program does not cover losses related to human lives or crops

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