In Uganda, eight lion cubs are suspected of being poisoned along with three adult lions at the country’s Queen Elizabeth National Park last week, National Geographic reported.
Wildlife officials discovered the 11 lions, part of a pride that also included three males, on April 10, the magazine said. The particular pride had been part of a television show along with other lions that highlighted conservation efforts and their habit of climbing into the branches of candelabra trees.
The Uganda Wildlife Authority believes that the lions were allegedly poisoned in retaliation for killing the cattle of nearby villagers, but there are no suspects, Alex Braczkowski, a National Geographic Explorer said after an assistant told him of the news.
“I broke down, and I started crying,” Braczkowski, who lives in Durban, South Africa, told National Geographic. “I got attached to them because I was following them every day in a vehicle when I was filming them.”
The magazine said intentional wildlife poisoning are common throughout eastern Africa, as cattle herders take matters into their own hands to protect their animals. National Geographic said in 2015 three members of Kenya’s famous Marsh pride were killed when they ate the meat of a cow whose carcass had been laced with pesticide, likely from cattle herders.
Queen Elizabeth National Park officials said they will likely take a tougher stance against cattle grazing in the park, where lions see the cattle as easy prey, National Geographic noted. Officials told the magazine that they also are considering bringing in adult lionesses from another pride to encourage breeding to boost the population.
According to LiveScience.com, African lions are listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species because of dwindling population. In 2014, their numbers hovered from 30,000 to 100,000, the website said.
The African Wildlife Foundation wrote that the lion population has decreased 43 percent over the past two decades due to loss of habitats and encroachment from humans, leading to increased confrontations between lions and humans.
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