Celebrating the death of a Lion

I am happily reporting the death of a beautiful male lion, Lorpolosie, of about 12 years of age. I am not drunk and did not chew any miraa. His death brings sadness, as we have known him well; both us and Campi ya Kanzi guests have been delighted by his majestic presence near the lodge for years.

Lorpolosie spent his entire life near the lodge and he was the dominant male of the area. Competition from other males mounted fiercely and Lorpolosie was under pressure.

So much that he eventually lost his territory and got pushed out of it. He ended up intruding in the territory of a coalition of two brothers. He stood no chances in defeating them and died in a fight…

A recent image of majestic Lorpolosie

Terribly sad, but, if we leave emotions aside for a moment, something worth celebrating: Lorpoloise died because we have a high density of lions. Our compensation program works and lion population is increasing. This leads to competition. And lions, especially male ones, are now dying naturally, killed by other lions. Sad, but natural and, from a conservationist point of view, desirable.

Lorpolosie had a full life, it was at his dusk and he lived well, his predating presence patiently tolerated by the Maasai who lost many cows to him… He did not die by the hand of a pastoralist defending his livestock, he died killed by other lions, in the natural chain of the lion circle of life. I am sad he is gone, but I am happy he went as many thousands of his fathers did before him, when man was not threatening the existence of this marvelous species.

Here are some facts about Lorpolosie:

   2010                                    2014   
Estimate Date of Birth:  2005 or 2006

Sex: Male

Date of Collaring: 29-11-2013 (vhf collar)

Date of Re-collaring: 15-11-2014 (sat collar)

Territory:  1600 km2

Lorpolosie was one of the famous/notorious big males in the Tsavo-Amboseli ecosystem. Lorpolosie means "boundaries" in Maa. This lion had made a habit of moving from one area to another seeing no boundaries. In the wet season, Lorpolosie spent a lot of time on Kuku GR in the Chyulu Hills, but in his early days the dry season he was often observed in Risa just north of Amboseli and in the bush northwest of Mbirikani town.

Lorpolosie was frequently in conflict with the community in the ecosystem as he predated on livestock when given a chance. The fact that Lorpolosie had managed to survive for so many years in the ecosystem is a tribute to the willingness of the Maasai community to live with lions and accept livestock losses.

The livestock predation compensation program of MWCT has been key in creating this tolerance.

Lorpolosie had been observed in the company of different females (up to 3) in the areas of his territory. He usually did not stay long with the same pride and has been observed moving around alone. His early attitude of moving quite far ended up costing his life...

Above, you can see how Lorpolosie moved while he had a satellite collar, from 2014 till 2016.

You can see how he was chased out of his territory and went roaming toward Amboseli, where he intruded in the territory of other males, who attacked him and killed him. The satellite data we are gathering is of immense importance to understand lions' movement, predation and territory. We could have not prevented this lion's death.

It is, fortunately, a kind of death we need to get used to, as we reach the saturation peak of lion density in the land we protect.



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