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Kenya Lions Killed for Taking Livestock

FILE: In this Monday, July 6, 2015 file photo, a lion prowls for potential prey in the afternoon near to a river in the Maasai Mara, south-western Kenya. The increasing presence and predation of lions has triggered their killing.

MBIRIKANI, KENYA - The killing of Kenya's lions highlights the growing human-wildlife conflict in parts of east Africa that conservationists say has been amped by a years-long drought. Hunger and thirst can send them into communities and to go after livestock, triggering the spearings.

Parkeru Ntereka lost almost half of his goat herd to hungry lions that wandered into his pen located near Kenya’s iconic Amboseli national park.

The 56-year-old’s loss made headlines in the east African country as it led to the spearing to death of six lions in retaliation by the Maasai people, who have co-existed with wild animals for centuries.

Ntereka said losing 12 goats is a huge loss for his large family.

“I sell these livestock in order to afford school fees. I don’t know how I will afford secondary school fees for some of my children,” said the father of eight.

The Big Life Foundation, which runs conservation programs in the area, has been offering compensation to herders who lose their livestock to predators.

But the compensation does not match the market rate for cows, goats and sheep.

Herder Joel Kirimbu said compensation should match the market rate.

“Cows are expensive and can cost as much as 80,000 Kenyan shillings ($577) each. One cannot compare 80,000 shillings to 30,000 shillings. We receive very little compensation. That is why we become angry and despite receiving compensation, we come out and kill the lions,” he told The Associated Press.

Rosi Lekimankusi, a mother of five, said 13 of her goats were killed by lions in the same village, Mbirikani in Kajiado County, just 150 kilometers from the capital, Nairobi.

“This is a big loss for us because my husband and I have no other jobs,” she told The Associated Press while standing outside her goat pen.

The human-wildlife confict often makes headlines in Kenya, where tourism plays an important role in the economy.

Last month, one of Kenya’s oldest lions, Loonkiito, was speared to death as it wandered out of the Amboseli national park in search for food.

The Kenya Wildlife Service said it is working on lasting solutions that would address the conflict while protecting both humans and wildlife.

Ntereka, the herder who lost almost half his goats, lives in fear of another lion attack.

“Since the olden days, we believed that when a lion invades your home and eats your cows, it will still return even after 10 years. It will never forget that your home was once a source of food,” he said.