The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Lioness Killed in Mara for Morans' Ritual

A lioness was killed and dismembered within the Mara Triangle at the beginning of this month.

The lioness, a member of the famed Oloololo pride was speared to death and its tail and front leg cut off by a group of 10 Maasai morans, who are currently undergoing the Eunoto ceremony which marks the end of one age set's period of active junior warriorhood, and their promotion as junior elders.

The trophies were found just outside the reserve by conservancy rangers.

One suspect was arrested and released on bail while the whereabouts of the others is still not known.

In 2001, eight lions were killed by one manyatta for the graduation ritual, and this year has seen another lioness killed by the Irkunono group of Siria Maasai, with four other groups (Ilkaputiei, Ilaiser, Olerien and Ildorobo) staking their claim to lions for the outlawed ritual.

The Mara Conservancy, KWS and the provincial administration has been holding meetings with the morans and elders to stop killings of lions which is considered an important rite of passage for the graduating morans.

On March 27, two lion cubs were killed in a retaliation after they pounced on a calf in in the Mara. The cubs were found speared to death by members of the Mara-Naboisho Lion Project team.

The Mara-Naboisho Lion Project plans to set up GPS collar monitoring of lions in the Naboisho Conservancy North East of the Masai Mara to conduct research to ascertain lion social ecology, space utilisation, demography and pride compositions.

This in turn will facilitate better understanding of safer grazing areas for communities in an effort to restore harmonious living between the community and wildlife, by mitigating predation on cattle.

In 2009 approximately 14 adult lions and an unknown number of cubs were killed in the areas in which the project is taking place, and a total of 16 lions have been lost in this area since November 2011. No arrests have been made.

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