Morans who killed 10 lions face huge fines, long jail terms

Ten lions speared to death in less than one week in Amboseli conservation area.

In Summary
  • Killing endangered or threatened species attracts a fine of at least Sh20 million or imprisonment for life.
  • Tourism CS Peninah Malonza flew to Imbirrikani in Kajiado where six lions were killed on Saturday morning.
One of the six lions killed in Imbirrikani on Friday night. .
LION SPEARED: One of the six lions killed in Imbirrikani on Friday night. .

The Maasai morans who allegedly speared 10 lions to death could be slapped with Sh20 million fines.

If convicted, they could be thrown behind bars for life.

Or face both fines and imprisonment.

The Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013, lists the African lion among the endangered species. These are animals or plants seriously at risk of extinction. 

It doesn't specify fine per animal. 

Section 92 of the Act prescribes huge fines to protect such species.

“Any person who commits an offence regarding an endangered or threatened species, or in respect of any trophy of that species, shall be liable upon conviction to a fine of not less than Sh20 million or imprisonment for life or both," the Act says. 

Kenya has about 2,500 lions in the wild.

They are threatened by human-wildlife conflict, livestock and human encroachment, loss of habitat and targeted poaching.

Ten lions have been killed in less than one week within the Amboseli conservation area as a result of human-wildlife conflict, sparking public uproar.

The World Wide Fund for Nature Kenya, WildlifeDirect and World Animal Protection are among many organisations that have condemned the killings.

On Sunday, Tourism CS Peninah Malonza flew to Imbirrikani in Kajiado where six lions were killed on Saturday morning.

The CS deplored the killing of lions and other wildlife as she called for dialogue between the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Maasai community.

More than 10 morans killed six stray lions at a manyatta in Imbirrikani ranch.

The lions had killed 11 goats and a dog before the warriors killed them.

All the culprits involved in killing the lions would be arrested and charged, Malonza said.

“The government will not tolerate such actions. We have an elaborate way of addressing such cases and we cannot allow the morans to act as they have,” she said.

Malonza urged the Maasai community to embrace ecotourism, such as conservancies and eco-lodges to reap profits from tourism.

Section 77 of the Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013, says any authorised KWS officer may, with the consent of the owner or occupier of private land, where it is necessary, enter any land to destroy any animal which has been deemed a problem animal.

The Act says a dangerous animal, which has been wounded or injured and is a potential danger to human life, will be followed by the officer to kill it on any land.

KWS will provide the owner or occupier with a subsequent report of what occurred.

The burden of proving that a wild animal has been killed or wounded will lie with the person who killed or wounded the wild animal.

On Sunday, KWS Board of Trustees chairman Walter Koipaton and acting director general Dr Erustus Kanga met the local community over the killings.

The aim was to find lasting solutions to address the conflict while protecting both human lives and wildlife.

The discussions explored ways to minimise the risk of human-wildlife conflict, including developing early warning systems to alert communities to wildlife in their vicinity.

The KWS director general and board of trustees chairman emphasised the importance of balancing the needs of the  communities with the need to protect wildlife.

They urged the community to report any incidents of human-wildlife conflict to the KWS and assured them that they would work together to find lasting solutions.

The Wildlife Conservation and Management Act says the government will establish a Wildlife Compensation Scheme.

It tasks the Treasury CS to form an insurance scheme for compensating victims of human-wildlife conflicts.

The Act says the Wildlife Compensation Scheme will be used for financing compensation claims from human-wildlife conflict victims.

In the case of death, victims are paid Sh5 million while victims with permanent injuries are paid Sh3 million.

The Act says in case of any other injury, a maximum of Sh2 million will be paid depending on its extent.

Any person who suffers loss or damage to crops, livestock or other property from wildlife will submit a claim to the County Wildlife Conservation and Compensation Committee.

It will verify the claim, make appropriate recommendations as and submit them it to the Service for consideration.

Compensation may be paid if death and injury have been caused  by elephants, lions, leopards, rhinos, hyenas, crocodiles, cheetahs, buffalos, poisonous snakes, hippos, sharks, stone fish, whales, sting rays, wild dogs and wild pigs.

Compensation for crops, livestock and property damage will be paid if inflicted by the animals.

The County Wildlife Conservation and Compensation Committee will review the claim and pay compensation at market rates.

The Act stipulates no compensation will be paid if the owner of livestock, crops or other property failed to take reasonable measures to protect them from damage by wildlife.

The owner will not be compensated if his own his land use practices are compatible with the ecosystem-based management plan for the area.

“A person dissatisfied with the compensation ...may within 30 days after notification and award, file an appeal to the National Environment Tribunal and a second appeal to the Environment and Land Court,” the Act state.

Most communities hosting wildlife have been complaining they do not see any value in 'hosting' wildlife.

Kajiado Governor Joseph Ole Lenku is emphatic his community does not benefit from wildlife.

Lenku on Sunday asked KWS to unconditionally release the five morans who killed six lions in Imbirrikani on Friday night.

“While we appreciate the role of wildlife in our tourism economy, it is not acceptable that they can be allowed to invade farms and kill livestock or people,” Lenku said.

Lenku said killings in Imbirikani where six lions were killed for attacking livestock demonstrate a community's anger at being neglected.

“Our people are running out of patience with constant attacks by wildlife. We demand the release of all the five people arrested,” he said.

The Wildlife Conservation and Management Act, 2013 tasks the Tourism CS to formulate regulations and guidelines on access and benefit sharing.

The CS is required to consult the land owner, the National Land Commission, the Commission on Revenue Allocation and liaise with KWS

It says landowners shall facilitate the ease of movement of wildlife from one area to the other, considering their migratory nature.

“Any benefits accrued may be shared among relevant parties on a case by case basis, whether county, conservancy or individual land owner,” according to the Act. 

It states parties may enter into agreements for the purpose of benefit-sharing and related transactions.

(Edited by V. Graham)

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