Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Kenya warrior lion killers hunted

Maasai warriors are to be arrested after they speared to death six lions

Maasai warriors who speared to death six lions in Kenya will be arrested because they did it to satisfy a cultural tradition.

Killing a lion with a spear is seen as one of the highest honours a man can achieve.

After the warriors killed the lions they cut off the tails to keep as trophies of their achievement, said Paul Mbugua, an official of the Kenya Wildlife Service.

The Maasai of Ilkeek-Lemedung'I village, a collection of mud, stone and iron-sheeting homes 40 kilometres (25 miles) outside Nairobi near edges of Nairobi National Park, said they grew tired of waiting for vets to arrive while the lions devoured their goats, a precious commodity in their community, on Wednesday.

Mr Mbugua said the warriors did not heed calls by rangers to wait for vets to tranquillise the lions. Two adult lionesses, two younger lions and two cubs were then killed.

"We are reviewing footage and pictures from the killing to identify who did it. Even the perpetrators of the heinous act know that they have done wrong and have taken to their heels," Mr Mbugua said.

According to US-based Maasai Association, a group trying to preserve Maasai culture, lion hunting is a sign of bravery and personal achievement but that hunting a female lion is prohibited unless she has posed a threat to humans or livestock. The association's website says that when the lion population was high, the community encouraged solo lion hunting.

Early today, one male lion killed a donkey a few miles (kilometres) from where the goats were killed, according to a conservationist. KWS rangers prevented members of the community from killing the lion in retaliation.

As Nairobi continues to grow, small towns on its outskirts are cropping up and expanding, in part fuelled by the demand for low-cost housing from the city's working class.

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