The discovery earlier this week of two poisoned lions in the Maasai Mara / Narok County has already seen three suspects arrested and arraigned in court with charges brought against them under the wildlife act.
The case prompted outrage among not just the conservation fraternity in Kenya but also had tourism stakeholders condemning the act as ‘Economic Sabotage’ by putting the country’s vital wildlife based tourism industry at risk.
‘We must not let these idiots get away with murdering our lions. Populations of predators including lions are falling rapidly and we simply cannot afford to lose more to people poisoning them or spearing them. The new Wildlife Act provides for very stiff and long sentences and I hope, if they are found guilty, that they spend a very long time behind bars, we need to send a signal that wildlife is not just part of our heritage in Kenya but also a vital part of our economic future. As you said yesterday, no wildlife no tourism and that is a fact’ wrote a regular Nairobi based source.
Paul Udoto, Corporate Communications Director at the Kenya Wildlife Service, also confirmed the case when he sent in the following report:
‘Three suspects have been arrested over the poisoning of two lions in Narok and are expected to be arraigned in court. The dead lions are feared to have consumed poisoned meat.
One of the dead lions was identified while the other one had been mauled by hyenas beyond recognition. A cub that was accompanying them was fine by this afternoon. At the same time, there were three carcasses of vultures in the vicinity suspected to have preyed on the lion carcasses.
The two dead lions were not among the pride of eight that had been reported and attended to yesterday but judging from the distances of about a kilometre radius could mean that they had consumed the suspected poison from the same source. The remnants of the carcasses have been incinerated and remnants buried to prevent further access by other animals.
A report of suspected lion poisoning was made on Sunday around Governors Camp area. The report was made by Narok County rangers and Governor’s Camp management. All the eight lions belonging to the Marsh pride are fine with no visible signs of poisoning. One of these was reported to be showing clinical signs of poisoning which, included severe in coordination, muscle tremors, profuse diarrhoea, papillary dilation, among others. Four others were reported to be showing mild signs. The one with severe signs was treated.
This morning the treated lion has been reported to have shown marked signs of improvement and has joined the rest of the group. All the eight were this afternoon observed to be together with no further signs of poisoning. Monitoring of the pride is ongoing.
This morning another lioness was reported in a different location that had not been seen yesterday.
A Kenya Wildlife Service veterinary doctor has conducted a post mortem examination in the presence of scene of crime officers. Samples will be ferried to the Government Chemist for toxicological analysis’.
Courts are now expected to hand down much stiffer sentences and show great reluctance to release suspects on bail after the suspension and indictment of a senior Mombasa based magistrate who had wanted to set blood ivory kingpin Feisal free on bond, after he was only captured in Tanzania after a long manhunt. Wildlife and conservation personalities have advocated that all suspect rulings should be investigated by the judiciary’s ethics panel to establish if magistrates or judges had been gotten to, sending shockwaves down the judiciary’s combined spines when some realized they can no longer get away with suspect rulings without having to answer a case of their own.