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World Lion’s Day celebrated at Meru National Park

Meru National Park celebrated this year’s World Lion’s Day with the rallying calls of coexistence between wildlife and human beings dominating the day.

The day, which was first celebrated on August 10, 2013, mainly aims at raising awareness about the plight of lions, which are an integral part of the wildlife ecosystem.

For Meru National Park, the celebrations kicked off with an eight-kilometre walk from the park’s gate at Murera to Kiutine Market, where the main day celebrations were held.

According to Meru National Park’s Assistant Director Kitavi Kaloki, the Meru Conservation Area, which has an estimated 4,008 square kilometres, has only about 74 adult lions as per the 2020 census and about 20 estimated calves so far.

It is also estimated that there are less than 30,000 lions globally, making them an endangered species, especially if swift action is not taken.

To conserve the few lions in the park, Mr Kaloki believes that the community should co-exist with each other.

“For cordial relationships to thrive between the wildlife and the community living around them, people should take care of the wild animals just as they do themselves.”

Mr Nicholas Kaloki addressing the residents during the celebrations.

“We would wish that members of the community restrain themselves to the areas where they live and on our side, we will ensure that the animals are confined within the park,” said Mr Kaloki.

He added that, as per the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the lion is classified as vulnerable and a threatened species.

“During these celebrations, we are reminded that only 20,000 lions remain in the world. Meru National Park thrives with history as it is home to the iconic Elsa the lioness, which was raised by George and Joy Adamson and has since been the most prolific pride in the park,” said Mr Kaloki.

He added that lions were the most important in the ecosystem because they are a member of the Big Five, have significance for tourism, and are an apex predator that controls prey numbers, bringing balance into the ecosystem.

Igembe Central Deputy County Commissioner (DCC) Ali Hussein reiterated that the way forward for conservation in Kenya and Meru National Conservation Area was concerted efforts between all stakeholders, including NGOs, government, and the community and that we should appreciate, and respect each other to solve any conflicts that arise in peace.

“At times there are misunderstandings, especially when we delay in handling cases but we are calling on the community to report incidents promptly so that we can also respond in the same way,” said Mr Hussein.

The celebrations were also conjoined with the World Elephant Day celebrations, which were first commemorated on August 12, 2012.

According to Mr Hussein, the demand for ivory in Asia and Africa markets has left at least 100 elephants being killed on a daily basis, a trend that should be curbed.

“We are here to create awareness and promote protection of the remaining species from numerous threats including habitat fragmentation and loss through encroachment and demand for ivory, conflict, climate change and mistreatment.”

“We need to increase and share knowledge and positive solutions for better care,” said Mr Hussein.

By Dickson Mwiti

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