Lions speared: Kenya’s human-animal conflicts grow

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ILKEEK-LEMEDUNG’I, Kenya (AP) – Crouching in the savannah’s tall grass, the lions tore through the flesh of eight goats in the early morning invasion. Dogs barked, women screamed and the men with the rank of warrior in this village of Maasai tribesman gathered their spears.

Kenya Wildlife Service rangers responded to the attack, but without a vet, and no way to tranquilize the eight attacking lions and remove them from Ilkeek-Lemedung’I, a collection of mud, stone and iron-sheeting homes 40 kilometers (25 miles) outside Nairobi, not far from the edges of Nairobi National Park.

In the end, the Maasai men – who come from a tribe renowned for hunting skills – grew tired of waiting for the vet, said Charity Kingangir, whose father’s goats were attacked. The men speared the lions, killing six: two adult lionesses, two younger lions and two cubs.

The lions had killed eight goats, each worth about $60.

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The deaths Wednesday of the six lions came one week after residents from another village on Nairobi’s outskirts killed a leopard that had eaten a goat. Last month KWS agents shot and killed a lion moving around the Nairobi suburb of Karen. And KWS said three lions attacked and killed three goats outside Nairobi National Park early Thursday. Rangers chased the lions back to the park.

Four days before the Maasai killed the six lions, KWS sent out a public notice pleading with people who encounter wild animals “to desist from killing them.” Such animals are dangerous, it said.

KWS summed up the problem in a posting on its Facebook page on Thursday: “Do animals invade human space, or do humans invade animal space? How can we find tolerance for our wild neighbors? And how can we humanely remove them when they get a bit too close?”

As Kenya’s capital enjoys a boom in apartment and road construction, an expanding population center is putting heavy pressure on Kenya’s famed wildlife, especially its big cats. Nairobi National Park is the only wildlife park in the world that lies in a country’s capital city.

Humans have killed about 100 lions a year over each of the last seven years, leaving the country with 2,000. Killing lions in Kenya is a crime, but Kenyans who lose livestock to big cats frequently retaliate. Lions, especially ones who leave Nairobi National Park, which is not completely fenced in, are at risk. After the killing of the six, KWS believes the park has 37 left.

As Nairobi continues to grow, small towns on its outskirts are cropping up and expanding, in part fuelled by the demand for low-cost housing from the city’s working class.

Humans are settling in traditional migratory corridors that wildlife from Nairobi’s park have long used to access the plains to the south around Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro, or to travel to Kenya’s Maasai Mara in the country’s southwest, said Peter M. Ngau, a professor in the department of urban and regional planning at the University of Nairobi.

The herbivores migrate from the park in search of pasture during the dry season and the carnivores follow, KWS official Ann Kahihia said.

“Unfortunately the carnivores do not know the difference between livestock and wild animals. Once they get livestock they just kill them,” Kahihia said.

KWS Director Julius Kipngetich has said the human population in the Kitengela area, where the six lions were killed, was low in the 1990s but following the establishment of an export processing zone, where raw imported goods are made into products, the number of people living there grew dramatically.

The second biggest migration of animals in Kenya – the biggest being the migration between Serengeti National Park in neighboring Tanzania and Maasai Mara – was that of the wildebeests from Nairobi National Park to the Athi plains to Nairobi’s east. But that migration has been squeezed because of human settlement, he said.

If parliament approves, the Kenyan government will start compensating those whose animals are maimed or killed by wildlife as an incentive to spare the attacking animals. KWS spokesman Paul Udoto said the government stopped compensation for wildlife attacks in 1987 after the program was abused.

Kipngetich said other ways of avoiding human-wildlife conflict is to fence parks and compensate at market rates people whose land may be used for conservation purposes.

Jackson Sikeet, who was present during Wednesday’s killing of the lions, said the government should compensate the Maasai for the loss of the goats.

“Otherwise if they don’t, this problem is going to continue every other time,” Sikeet said.

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The Kenyan government is pushing to build a road through Nairobi National Park

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“I have copied & pasted this directly from an email received by my fellow animal warrior, Jill who lives in South Africa”

Dear friends across Africa,

The Kenyan government is pushing to build a road through Nairobi National Park — putting the future of this unique wildlife sanctuary at risk. But the head of the Environment Authority can stop this disaster. Sign the petition now to give him to public mandate he needs to save the park, then forward this email to everyone:

The Kenyan government has just approved the construction of a road that slices through the unique Nairobi National Park. But massive public opposition can give the new head of the Environment Authority the backing he needs to stop this outrageous decision.

Nairobi National Park is an international gem — home to over 100 species of mammals and a sanctuary for the endangered black rhino. But the government’s plans to build a giant bypass through it would set a dangerous precedent, putting all national parks at risk of development. Kenyan biologist Paula Kahumbu is taking the government to court to try and stop the road, but despite the pressure, they are still pushing the Environment Authority to approve this park-killing plan.

If we now add a wave of public opposition, we can strengthen the hand of Environment Authority head Geoffrey Wahungu to defy the government and end the highway plan. Sign the petition now to call on Wahungu to save Nairobi National Park! When we reach 50,000 signatures, we’ll deliver the petition directly to Wahungu and the Kenyan government:

The national park is under enormous stress from a growing city, and conservationists say that this road project could set a precedent for further attempts to expand into the park– if opened to development, this sacred parkland would be worth millions. All the while, alternative routes that avoid the national park have been dismissed without serious investigation. The government says they’ll give the park replacement land, but none has yet been secured and a major road would disrupt the park’s precious ecosystem.

Just last year, public opposition helped defeat a plan to build a road through the heart of the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. The Kenyan government was strongly opposed to that project on environmental and tourism grounds — but are now applying a double standard.

The government is already under legal pressure, and a public outcry can be the final push that saves Nairobi National Park for good. Sign the petition now to save the park:

The Avaaz community is winning on issues just like this all around the world. Just last year, we joined with Indigenous people in Bolivia to stop a highway that would have sliced through the heart of the Amazon rainforest — and won. Together, we are changing how politics works around the world, and now we can do so again.

With hope,

Alex, Paul, Emily, Ricken, Marie and the whole Avaaz team

PS: This campaign was started by Avaaz member, Mike. You can create your own campaign in just 5 minutes here:


NEMA threathens to Bypass project (The Star)

Kenya government taken to court by conservation fraternity (eTN)

Kenya: Tanzania Cancels Road Building in Serengeti (

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Rhino Crisis Round Up: Three Rhino Killers Arrested in India & More

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A rhino-killing attempt has been thwarted in India’s Pabitora Wildlife Sanctuary, thanks to a joint team of forest guards and police.

India’s Business Standard reports that a four-member gang accessed the Diplung forest range to kill rhinos in the wee morning hours, but three were nabbed following an exchange of gunfire with forest guards. adds that a .303 rifle and ammunition were recovered.

Rhinos killed in Tanzania

A mother rhino and her calf were slaughtered in Serengeti National Park, and apparently, the tragedy occurred nearly a month ago — but went unreported by park staff.

According to Reuters, four senior wildlife officials and 28 game wardens have now been suspended, including Serengeti’s chief warden and the acting director of the country’s national parks authority.

The female rhino was one of the five critically endangered Eastern black rhinos (Diceros bicornis michaeli) translocated to Tanzania from South Africa in May 2010, as part of the Serengeti Black Rhino Repatriation Project sponsored by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s “Wildlife Without Borders” program, along with international partners.

Only three of the five rhinos are still alive, as “George” was killed for his horns in December 2010.

A statement released by USFWS shortly after George’s murder said that plans to translocate another 27 black rhinos to Tanzania were being “re-assessed”

Arrests in Southern Africa

Meanwhile, Angola Press released the name of a Vietnamese national arrested in Mozambique with seven rhino horns.

Doan Minh was headed to Hanoi via Bankok on a Kenya Airways flight when he was apprehended at Maputo’s main airport.

At least two suspects were arrested this week in South Africa for dealing in rhino horns.

In South Africa, a suspect identified by IOL as Dennis Struis was arrested for attempting to sell a rhino horn and was released on R5000 bail. He is expected to appear in court on July 24th.

Another suspect, Johan Masakwani Mundhlovu, was arrested and his case postponed until July 7th. Police confiscated a rhino horn, copper cables, two butcher knives, an axe and a 9mm pistol with twelve rounds of ammunition.

In addition, a gang of four suspects arrested in 2011 and linked to six rhino killings at Thabazimbi, Pienaarsrivier, Mokopane and Naboomspruit appeared in court.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) says that Chico Malesa, Johannes Malesa (brothers), Innocent Matjakesa and Archford Moyo are in custody while they await another appearance scheduled for June 19th.

Finally, South African safari operator Marnus Steyl, professional hunter Harry Claassens, and their Thai accomplices will be in court on Monday, June 4th.

Steyl and three Thai nationals — Chumlong Lemtongthai, Punpitak Chunchom and Tool Sriton — were arrested last year for using prostitutes to pose as trophy hunters in an illegal rhino horn laundering scheme.

Claassens was arrested earlier this month, and Steyl has also been linked to South Africa’s lion bone trade.

At least 227 rhinos have been killed in South Africa since the beginning of the year.

One-horned rhinos of Asia

Although once widespread throughout Asia, from Pakistan to the Myanmar border and possibly into southern China, greater one-horned rhinos (Rhinoceros unicorns) now exist in just two countries: India and Nepal.

Thanks to the efforts of the International Rhino Foundation and their partners, the population of greater one-horned rhinos is on the rise.

IRF’s efforts to increase rhino numbers are also underway in Indonesia, home to the world’s only known population of Javan rhinos (Rhinoceros sondaicus) — which is close to just 40 individuals. Vietnam’s subspecies of Javan rhino (Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus) was declared extinct in 2011.

At one time, Javan rhinos were found throughout Southeast and Southern Asia and southern China.

Learn more about IRF’s work with these two rhino species — and how you can help — in this exclusive interview with the Executive Director of IRF, Dr. Susie Ellis: The podcast of “Saving the One-Horned Rhinos of Asia” is also available on iTunes.

Podcast & Source: Planetsave (

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Serengeti MP aghast at rhino killing with ease

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Serengeti MP Dr Kebwe Steven Kebwe has described the recent killing of two rhinos by poachers in the Serengeti National Park as an act of economic sabotage.

He told a press conference yesterday in Dar es Salaam that killers of these animals get easy access to the national park, reaching the special integrated project area in the park known as ‘MORU’ where the animals were located.

The incident was a serious reversal of progress that Tanzania was making to raise the mammal’s population, he said, citing poor security in the area as explaining the poachers’ act of sabotage.

He urged the government through the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism to boost security in the area, as the current number of game rangers in Serengeti stands at 461 and is not enough to ensure focused security duties in an area of 14,000 square kilometers of the MORU project zone specifically.

The government must increase efforts to guard the rhinos and if possible it should double the number of game rangers stationed in the area, he said.

Killing the two rhinos hit at efforts being made by the government and other parties to boost the population of the endangered animal by bringing more rhinos to the Serengeti, one of their principal ancestral homes, the legislator noted.

He was surprised to see that no one up to now is being held by law enforcers to account for the brutal slaughter of critically endangered black rhinos.

He also cautioned the government to look at working conditions of game rangers as they conduct a miserable and pathetic life due to low salaries they obtain.

Few housing facilities and unfavorable location involving large distances from their working point was an exacerbating factor fueling mischief that could harm their employers’ properties.

Modern security measures like those used in South African national parks are needed, despite that this could be more costly than current arrangements, he said, noting that otherwise it is hard to figure out how the prized rhino is going to survive.

One method is by using small airplanes flying over which could take note of culprits penetrating into the zone, he said.

This is the second time rhinos have been killed at the Serengeti, as last year a rhino named ‘George’ was killed, one among five eastern black rhinos transferred from South Africa to the Serengeti, where they were received by President Jakaya Kikwete.

The survival of rare wildlife species that are the main magnet of the multi-million dollar tourism industry was under threat, according to a recent study.

The report was prepared under the auspices of the Frankfurt Zoological Society (FZS) in the wake of the killing of a black rhino relocated in Serengeti from South Africa.

“This is a terrible setback for the project and an alarming incident as it could mean that the poaching wave that currently rocks South Africa is beginning to spill over to Tanzania,” lamented Dr Mark Borner, head of FZS Africa Department.

The rhino transfer project was jointly undertaken by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, the Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa), the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute (Tawiri), the South African National Parks (SANParks) and the Grumeti Fund.

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