Daily Nation

None of the carcasses of the kings and queens of the jungle killed on Wednesday had the end of their tails on Thursday.

KWS officers load six lions killed in kitengela before the disposal at Nairobi National Park on June 20,2012. None of the carcasses of the Lions killed on Wednesday had the end of their tails on Thursday. Photo/FILE

When the Nation got to the scene at Ilkeek-lemedungi Village, the “victors” were holding the cats’ tails, “happier than ever before”.

Among the Maasai, killing lions is like football. “Like footballers struggling to score between the goal post, morans strive to reach out for the tail or spear the lion first,” said Mzee Silas ole Soropay.

But not all Maasai communities use the tail to determine the winner in the battle with the beasts.

Mzee Soropay, of the Ilkololik age set, says the community that lives in Loitokitok District considers the first person to spear the lion as the winner.

He is proud that one of his agemates, Mzee Terta ole Musungu, is also still the record holder when it comes to the number of tails. “It is a record that none has broken … he is the champion with seven tails,” he said, beaming.

Age sets are groups of morans separated by between 10 and 20 years in age and walk in groups, learn and carry out their activities and celebrations together.

When a group succeeds in killing a lion, its members are viewed as heroes. Within the group, the first person to get the tail when the cat is still alive is highly recognised and regarded.

According to the 72-year-old Soropay, anybody can kill a lion to protect livestock, and “there are no specific rules that morans are the ones who must do the work. The old and young alike must protect the livestock”.

Mzee Soropay has killed seven lions, by virtue of being the first to pierce the beast with his spear, but has never been lucky to get the tail.  Read more…

See also Standard editorial:

The killing of six lions from the Nairobi National Park captures the depth of the problem facing the Kenya Wildlife Services. Animals in the park are caged in a habitat choking itself to death. Kitengela was for centuries the natural corridor of herbivores that are the natural prey of lions to escape harsh weather.

Today roads, fences, cement works, flower farms and new buildings block their movements across the Athi plains, and numbers have dwindled (by 70 per cent between 1977 and 2002). The proximity of livestock so close to the parks is a recipe for disaster. The Maasai co-existed with lions for centuries but things changed after the animals started going after their cows, sheep and goats.

The respect they had for each other is gone and the lions are now even killed using poison. While it is the role of Government to protect the public and their livestock from attacks by wild animals, the latter also deserve their space.

What is happening calls for implementation of a master plan that involves the Maasai and others living in the Athi plains and restores the natural balance between them and wild animals. It is the only way.  Read more…