Africa’s lions threatened with extinction by villagers bent on revenge

Cubs cry from thirst as they die from starvation following the death of their mother poisoned by poachers - National Geographic Creative

Adrian Blomfield, mbirikani, kenya

The Telegraph 23 June 2018

The poison is supposed to be so fast-working that the locals call it “Two Step” — because “you take two steps and drop dead” — but the lions died slowly.

Disorientated and vomiting, their vision blurring, the three lionesses and their eight cubs stumbled away from the poisoned carcass, breathing becoming ever harder until suffocation overtook them.

In just this single incident in April, more than a third of the famous tree-climbing lions in Uganda’s Queen Elizabeth National park were eliminated, leaving as few as 19 left in one of only two places in the world where lions display such arboreal behaviour.

The killing of lions in Africa is hardly new. Certain tribes, like the Maasai, have long hunted lions in coming-of-age rituals or to protect their livestock.

But as human populations have soared and the means of killing have grown more sophisticated, conservationists warn that Africa’s lions, like those that once roamed North America and Europe, could be driven to extinction.

Lions are increasingly under threat from humans Credit: Big Life Foundation

In the past three decades the number of African lions has fallen by 80 percent, from 100,000 in the late Eighties to just 20,000 today and this pattern may be difficult to reverse.

Earlier this month, nine lions died in a mass poisoning on the fringes of the Serengeti in Tanzania, while conservationists report eight more killings in protected areas bordering Kenya’s Maasai Mara reserve.

The culprits behind the killing of the pride in Uganda were from Hamukungu on the edge of the Queen Elizabeth, where villagers said they carried out the slaughter to stop lion attacks on their livestock.

Such stories are replicated through East Africa, with lion attacks on cattle and goats becoming more frequent as rural human settlements grow and prey becomes ever scarcer due to poaching.

Conservationists say they suspect the tree-climbing lions were poisoned with aldicarb, one of a number of highly toxic carbamate pesticides, made mostly by Western chemical companies, that are widely available in Africa.

A cow carcass laced with carbamate is astonishingly deadly. A small dose can fell not just a pride of lions, but also the hyenas and vultures who subsequently feed on the carcass or on the dead lions themselves.

Jackals who eat the dead vultures often die too. Vultures, who can be killed in their hundreds, have themselves become critically endangered — their numbers have fallen by 60 percent in the past decade, according to raptor conservationist Simon Thomsett.

10 beautiful animals driven to extinction since the arrival of us

Facing myriad new challenges, many conservationists are beginning to despair of a solution. Banning carbamates like aldicarb is not seen as an option. It would hurt farmers and there are hundreds on the market anyway.

Besides, the internet makes it easy to research poisons. Ten years ago Maasai warriors in Kenya walked into cyber cafes to look into how Scottish gamekeepers poisoned golden eagles and copied their methods. Today, the warriors have smart phones.

Pessimists say that other interventions, from compensation schemes to programmes to foster better animal husbandry and improve the security of cattle enclosures are failing.

This is partly because a growing number of lion killings are motivated by more complex reasons than livestock protection, conservationists say.

Some communities kill lions to protest perceived government interference in their tribal heartlands or local politicians pocketing tourism revenues that are meant to be shared; others hope to leverage poisoning to get more cash, promising to stopping killing wildlife in exchange.

There is a lot of voodoo and magic in northwest Tanzania. They take owl legs, they chop up [human] Albinos — it is very dark indeed.
In parts of Africa, including northwestern Tanzania where the Serengeti lies, witchcraft and traditional medicines are also a factor, with lion claws and teeth, as well as vulture heads all being taken for use in potions believed to transfer animal strength to humans.

“There is a lot of voodoo and magic in northwest Tanzania,” says one conservationist. “They take owl legs, they chop up [human] Albinos — it is very dark indeed.”

Yet amid the gloom there are areas in which traditional interventions, when applied robustly and efficiently, are still working.

Shortly after dawn last Tuesday, the young warriors of Karama, one of the villages on the vast Maasai-owned Mbirikani ranch in southern Kenya, gathered with their dogs.

A pride of three male lions had repeatedly struck at the village’s cattle, killing two cows the night before. Fed up, Karama’s elders had ordered an olamaiyo, the traditional Maasai lion hunt.

But as they tracked their quarry, the warriors were intercepted by wardens from the Big Life Foundation, a conservation programme co-founded by former safari guide Richard Bonham.

When Mr Bonham moved onto Mbirikani, 35 years ago, lions were a common sight.

But mass poisonings began in the Nineties and by the middle of the last decade there were as few as 15 lions left in the 2m acre Amboseli ecosystem, the flatlands of southern Kenya and northern Tanzania beneath Mt Kilimanjaro of which Mbirikani is a part.

Compensation schemes have been initiated, but not always successfully, to save the lions Credit: Big Life Foundation

Today, the population has grown to 200, the result of a robust carrot-and-stick compensation scheme that has ensured the local Maasai are invested in the protection of lions and other big game.

As the lion population has grown, so have the number of livestock attacks. On average, lions kill eight cattle a day in the 800,000-acre compensation zone.

But for each head of cattle killed, Big Life pays $250 (£188).

Crucially, in contrast to similar programmes elsewhere, compensation is paid out every two months, and can be withheld for an entire community if a lion is killed in the meantime.

When the consequences are spelt out to Karama’s warriors, they agree to turn back. Big Life also offers to translocate the lions to a game reserve farther east.

“Compensation is a dirty word among some conservationists because there have been a lot of failed projects. Compensation has failed in some areas but not in ours,” Mr Bonham says.

“Our programme proves that.” Just a single lion has been killed in the Kenyan portion of the Amboseli ecosystem since 2016.

By contrast, in the Tanzanian portion — where the government forbids Big Life from paying compensation — there have been at least 12 known fatal poisonings in the past two years.

Big Life’s programme has been a success, but conservationists warn that replicating it elsewhere will be difficult as long as governments choose to ignore the issue, fail to enforce their own laws and tolerate corruption.

A single individual was identified as the culprit for this month’s killing of eight lions, two elephants and other game in the Maasai Mara.

But instead of being jailed for 15 years, as the law dictates, he was “given a stern talking to” by local authorities scared of triggering a violent backlash by the community, conservationists say.

Law enforcement aside, local politicians stand accused of worsening the situation by grabbing land meant for wildlife corridors for themselves, while central governments are more interested in industrialisation than in protecting game.

“The issue is not poisoning,” says Mr Tomsett. “The issue is lack of government commitment to conservation.”

Source:https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/06/23/revenge-poisonings-using-pesticides-threaten-wipe-africas-lions/

5
Leave a Reply

avatar
5 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
5 Comment authors
MasonpatJosepoenteeCandelaTrakyBuffordkeedeInessoypepe Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Inessoypepe
Guest

The Omalizumab the biologic agent is meant for a pathologic cell type but Joint Task Force report recommended that sufferers receiving cross-reacts with regular cells. Navigational Note: Suicide attempt Suicide attempt or gesture Suicide attempt with intent to Death with out intent to die die which requires hospitalization Definition: A disorder characterised by self-inflicted harm in an try to end one’s personal life. The Use of Lithium for the Treatment of Bipolar Disease December 5, 2019 We Steeler fans are pleased.. [url=http://www.conservationfund.org/learning/purchase-fenofibrate-no-rx/] cholesterol test can i drink coffee generic 160 mg fenofibrate amex[/url]. Answer: People with autoimmune problems do not… Read more »

Buffordkeede
Guest

Panic1 dysfunction is a situation that impacts 1 – 2% of the New Zealand and Australian populations every year. Within the scientific setting, this realization has essential implications for the interpretation of genome sequence data from sufferers, particularly when trying to predict the impression of mutations in genes of presently unknown perform (see Chapter sixteen). Further medical developments EdwardsпїЅ seminal achievements attracted many other researchers to the sector of reproductive medicine, leading to rapid technical improvement [url=http://getreadytoread.org/journal/order-cheap-ropinirole-online-no-rx/] medications every 8 hours discount ropinirole 1 mg with amex[/url]. Speculum examination reveals the lesion on the ectocervix which bleeds on friction. He… Read more »

CandelaTraky
Guest

Thus, a or there might even be paradoxical contraction, of the delayed passage of meconium by a full-term toddler raises internal anal sphincter. The symptoms are similar to these of hepatitis B besides that sufferers are more likely to have fulminant hepatitis and progress to chronic lively hepatitis and cirrhosis. J Pediatr thase 1 deciency in people reveals its central function in lymphocyte proliferation symptoms of [url=https://www.planet-nomads.com/educational/buy-antabuse-online/]purchase antabuse cheap[/url]. Lift a pinch of pores and skin from the dorsum of the hand and note its elevated thickness. For every patient, 6 months, 1 12 months, three yr and 5 year… Read more »

Josepoentee
Guest

At first respiratory alkalosis develops, adopted by metabolic acidosis that usually proves deadly before anatomic adjustments can seem. They are most often treated with surgical procedure and chemotherapy—solely rarely is radiation therapy used. Cardiac involvement consists of cardiac hypertrophy ure 5-8D), endocardial fibroelastosis, and arrhythmia from modifications in the conduction system anxiety rings [url=https://vlab.org/conference/experts-49/buy-pamelor-online/]order genuine pamelor on-line[/url]. Changes in the valuation parameters, for example in the interest rate, wage increase fee or death chances, can affect the value of pension obligations. It has lengthy been known that progestogens can alter the blood lipids (fat) in an unfavorable way, which could… Read more »

Masonpat
Guest

As most cancers increasingly becomes a disease characterised by survivorship, these unwanted side effects may need to be tolerated for longer durations of time. Function: the choroid regulates temperature and provides nourishment to the outer layers of the retina. If the affected person breathes supplemental oxygen, the inspired pO2 increases to 200 mmHg, 400 mmHg or higher relying on how much oxygen is inhaled 4 medications list [url=https://www.oregonproducts.eu/lab/practice21/order-combivir-online/]buy discount combivir 300mg line[/url]. Patient 2 is a sixteen-old male adolescent, maternal uncle of patient 1, with regular cognition, lax dry eczematous pores and skin, hypermobile joints, pectus excavatum, distal decrease limbs… Read more »