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World's oldest lion in the wild dies after being speared by herders
Featured Image Credit: Facebook/Twitter/Kenya Wildlife Service

World's oldest lion in the wild dies after being speared by herders

A lion thought to be the oldest in the wild has died after trying to attack livestock

Loonkito, thought to be the world's oldest lion in the wild, has died after attacking livestock in a village near a national park in Kenya.

The 19-year-old lion had lived in Amboseli National Park, Kenya, but died when he went alone to a nearby village in search of food and attacked livestock.

According to The National, the old lion was speared to death by herders in the village of Olkelunyiet after Loonkito attacked their livestock.

The outlet reports that Loonkito ruled a large pride of lions until 2017 when he was badly injured in a territorial fight and his brother Ambogga (also a lion) was killed.

Since then the aging and wounded lion had found it more difficult to defend his pride and territory, and grew weaker due to old age.

Loonkito, thought to be the oldest lion in the wild, was speared to death after attacking a village's livestock.

At around 9pm local time on Wednesday (10 May) the 19-year-old lion went into the village cowshed to kill and eat some of the livestock there but was fought off and killed by herders armed with spears.

Spear wounds to the head killed the elderly lion, with no human or livestock injury in the fight, with Loonkito described as 'weak due to old age'.

The lion's body was collected by Kenya Wildlife Services, and Daniel Sampu, senior coordinator of predator compensation at Big Life Foundation said Loonkito's killing was a sign of conflict between humans and wildlife in the area.

He said: "This is purely a human-wildlife conflict. The local people have been living with wildlife for ages.

"The pastoralists are on high alert to protect the few animals left by the recent severe drought. Such incidents must be discouraged."

The killing of Loonkito has been condemned by conservationists who have urged local residents to avoid killing lions if at all possible, as they are a vulnerable species with an estimated fewer than 25,000 still alive.

There are over 100 lions in Amboseli National Park and they can sometimes be seen near the roads.

Locals killing lions that attack their livestock is not new and there have been cases where big cats have been tracked down and killed for attacking other animals.

While Loonkito was thought to be the oldest lion living in the wild at 19 there are many lions in captivity who are able to live longer than that.

Of course lions in captivity can still be dangerous whether it be towards their own zookeepers or to people daft enough to climb into their enclosures and attempt to steal their cubs.

Then sometimes there's lion-on-lion violence as big cats don't always get along well in captivity.

Topics: Animals, World News, News