In the last three weeks we have all been shaken by the events in the Masai Mara involving the much loved Marsh Pride of lions. As everyone knows, they have been filmed over decades by all the major film makers from the BBC Big Cat teams to others from Australia, Germany, Holland, France, South Africa, Japan, Canada, America, New Zealand, Sweden, and no doubt others. Jonathan Scott first brought major attention to them in his book (with Brian Jackman) in 1982, The Marsh Pride, recently reprinted and now a classic. The problem is laxity on the part of the authorities in that area, who allow uncontrolled access for their cattle into the reserve. They claim they have no alternative grazing when there is a drought. But Kenya has had very heavy rain (El Nino), and the Mara has been lush and green. It is claimed that three cows were killed by the lions, and the Maasai took revenge by lacing one of the carcasses with Carbofuran, a banned and very toxic chemical. As a result, several lions died, as did some hyenas and a number of vultures. Two men have been arrested, and their case will come up in two weeks. Under the new wildlife law, they face a fine of Sh 20m, or a life sentence. The crunch will be whether this will be enforced by the court. This type of crime must be stopped, with very heavy penalties – in another incident this week, a dozen or so hyenas were poisoned in the same way (in another area of the country) for allegedly killing some goats.
We wish everyone a Happy Christmas and wonderful New Year.