Six lions were killed on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya, after having ventured outside a national park, according to the Kenyan Wildlife Service.
Residents of the Oloika area in Kitengela, Kajiado County, southeast of Nairobi, speared the animals – two adults, two adolescents and two cubs — to death in retaliation for having killed four goats during the night.
“We gathered as we waited for KWS officials to come and catch the lions,” livestock keeper Francis Kasha told Reuters.
“We tried to surround the animals as we waited for the officials, but some people became too rowdy and it was impossible to stop them from killing the lions.”
Kasha added: “I did not kill any lions then, but right now we have been forced to kill the lions and we are feeling very bad because this is national heritage and a source of income for our country.”
The lions had strayed from Nairobi National Park in pursuit of herbivores and livestock.
Kenya has been losing lions, iconic creatures in the nation’s psyche, at the rate of 100 per year for the past seven years due to conflict with humans, disease and habitat destruction.
The KWS estimates that only about 2,000 lions remain in the country, implying they could completely vanish within two decades.
Encroaching human settlements also endanger the lions. Last May, park rangers shot and killed a lioness that was prowling near an upscale neighborhood of Nairobi.
It is not just lions at risk of extinction. KWS also indicated that elephants, wild dogs, leopards, cheetahs, hyenas, Sitatunga (an antelope), Tana crested mangabey, and Tana red colobus monkeys are endangered wildlife species in Kenya.
Since 1970, the number of elephants in Kenya has plunged from 160,000 to less than 30,000, principally due to poaching for ivory.
But conservationists complain that city officials of Nairobi, a sprawling metropolis of 3.5 million people, have little interest in saving lions given the other problems they face in an overcrowded, decaying concrete jungle.
Indeed, lions and other animals are losing out to grazing lands and other habitats as human population expands.
“Nairobi National Park is a microcosm of what is happening elsewhere,” said Luke Hunter, president of the conservation group Panthera, adding that lions have lost more than 80 percent of their historic lands across Africa.
“In protected areas lions do well … but outside they are getting hammered.”