A 60-year-old man from Kimugandura village, Laikipia County, identified as Mzee Rimpaso Legei, has shocked many after killing a lioness which attacked the villages.
Mr. Legei narrated to the Nation, how he risked his life to save his lifestock.
“The lion pounced on me and hit me on the head with its paws as it tried to bite my neck. During the brief struggle, I miraculously managed to drive my weapon, a spear, through its head, killing it instantly,” the elder recalls.
Although happy to have survived the ordeal, he regrets the death of the lioness, believed to have strayed from one of the three nearby private game reserves, noting that the animal had mauled eight goats in the village within a week, so killing it in self-defence was the last option.
He explains that the community values wildlife conservation, which is one of the main economic drivers in Laikipia North sub-county through tourism, with several private and community-run conservancies.
“When we responded to the distress call, our intention was to chase them away from our grazing areas. But the animal remained defiant and attacked two herders who had responded. In fact, it pounced on me when I tried to free one of them from its grip,” said Mzee Legei.
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) deputy director for Laikipia County, Ms Rose Malenya, described the incidents as isolated, saying that despite the region having one of the highest concentrations of wildlife in the country, retaliatory attacks are rare because locals have learnt to co-exist with wild animals, some of which roam freely on the vast plains.
Apart from this incident, there have been no recent cases of people killing lions or other wildlife as a result of human-wildlife conflict. In this particular case, it was an old lioness who was no longer able to hunt and had resorted to preying on domestic animals in the grazing areas,” Ms Malenya explained.
She added that before it was killed, it had attacked four people in the space of a week, with the first incident reported last Friday when it injured a herder in the same area.
A report was made to our office and we teamed up with conservancy rangers but were unable to track it,” said the KWS regional manager.
When the lone lioness appeared in the village on Tuesday morning, she seemed to have no trouble at all, first mauled a goat and then remained in the same spot, ready to take on a second goat after young herders fled the scene when they saw her. Three men were injured in the ensuing confrontation, two of whom were admitted to Nanyuki Cottage Hospital while the third was treated and released.
Mzee Legei suffered head, leg and back injuries, while his colleague Tela Murijo, 22, was bitten on his left leg by the lioness. Both are sharing a room at the hospital after undergoing surgery. Doctors at the hospital told the Nation that they were out of danger and would be discharged in a day or two, while the third patient, who suffered injuries to his right leg, had been treated and discharged.
“Of the two patients currently admitted here, one had two injuries to the skull where the bone was exposed. We took him to the operating theatre and he is now in a stable condition as he is experiencing pain from the injuries. The other patient had a deep bite wound on his left leg and we also took him to the theatre,” said Dr Navin Raina, a surgeon who operated on the two.