Olorpapit, the oldest lion in Kenya's Maasai Mara Game Reserve has died, the park management announced on Thursday.
The lion died of old age after a 16-year reign in the jungle.
"It's true we are celebrating the life of the iconic lion Olorpapit who has been ruling the Enkuiyani pride for the past 16 years. It died of old age on Wednesday evening at Olare Motorogi Conservancy. It was a celebrity lion that was a darling to tourists," said James Sindiyo the Chief Park Warden.
The Park Warden described the iconic male as the most dominant together with his younger brother Orbanoti who is also estimated to be aged around 14 have been shuttling between Enkuiyani, Oldikdiki, Monika and Hamercop prides where their lineage is spread.
As soon as word went around that the famous lion had rested, hundreds of international tourists and wild cat lovers who had interacted with the lion poured their tributes.
Maasai Mara Game Reserve is mourning the oldest and iconic lion nicknamed "Olorpapit" who died of old age after a 16-years reign in the jungle,has been weak for the past few years and his situation was worsened when he was attacked by younger territorial lions a few weeks ago. pic.twitter.com/o8bZydbc8M
- Heritage of African Jungles Tours & Safaris (@of_jungles) November 19, 2020
Lucy Johnson, a veteran wildlife photographer who posted on a Facebook page known as the "Big Cats of Masai Mara" said the lion died peacefully and with dignity.
"With great sadness, one of the Masai Mara famous lion king, Lorpapit of Enkuiyai pride passed away this afternoon of old age at the border of Olare Motorogi Conservancy. He died in peace and dignity," read her condolence message.
She said that since August, when his condition started worsening, it was brought to the attention of park management. He received treatment from a vet and his condition was monitored closely by rangers of both reserve and conservancy.
"He passed away 300meters from rangers' post, I reckon because he felt safe here, and in his last days, he was accompanied by his brother Olbarnoti," said Ms Johnson.
She said she was there when the incident happened and had a chance to say goodbye to the magnificent lion, whom she has been following and photographing for the last 6 years.
"He was 16-years-old that is a full life for a lion in the wild. Rest in Peace, my King!" she saluted.
Sindiyo told the media that the patriarch lion had been weak for the past few years and its situation was worsened when he was attacked by younger territorial young lions few weeks ago.
"In August the Lions condition started dwindling, it was brought to the attention of park management. It received treatment from vet and the condition was monitored closely by rangers of both reserve and conservancy," he said.
Sindiyo added that his weaknesses inhibited his natural way of life of hunting and surviving and he was always seen in the company of his loyal, younger brother Olbanorti.
Had he been human, he would have been sent off in a state funeral befitting a king of his status and exploits.
According to African Lions Fact, an online lion platform, in the wild the lifespan of lions is approximately 15 years, however in captivity it can be as long as 30 years.