Published on November 23rd, 2009 | by Jake Richardson


The Last Lion in Kenya

lion cub gabrielle
The lion cub pictured above is named Gabriella and lives at an animal orphanage in Nairobi. The Pride of Kenya website reports she lives there because she was left parentless due to a human-lion conflict. (Presumably this explanation means her mother was killed by humans). The post about her goes on to say that her life expectancy in captivity is about 22 years.

In 20 years, according to one estimate, wild lions could be extinct in Kenya. So it is reasonable to wonder if she could be the last, or one of the few lions left in that country in two decades. If she still is alive then, and all the wild lions have been killed via poisonings and habitat loss, there will be no lions left in the wild there – but is a lion living in a cage that has been reared in captivity still a wild animal?

The current Kenyan lion population is estimated to be about 2,000, with 100 or so being killed every year. (WildlifeDirect executive director Dr. Paula Kahumbu has said there used to be 30,000 just 50 years ago). Researcher Lawrence Frank believes they actually could be gone in about 10 years, “Lions are disappearing so fast from Kenya, as well as the rest of Africa, that I think they will disappear [from Kenya] in less than 10 years if action is not taken very quickly”. Dr. Frank is the Living with Lions Director and has been a research associate at UC-Berkeley for twenty-five years. Living with Lions works with local Kenyans to protect wild lions and prevent livestock loss due to lion predation. Dr. Frank was generous enough to answer some questions about lion conservation there.

Is foreign safari tourism helping the situation, or having no impact?

“Of course it is critically important.  Protected areas have to be the first line of conservation, and they are totally dependent on tourism for their existence.  One of Kenya’s big problems is that almost all Kenya parks are too small to provide long term protection for lions, as they move very widely and when they leave parks, they eat livestock and are killed in retaliation. “

If the annual rate of lion loss is not curbed, and lions go effectively extinct in Kenya, how
much tourism revenue will the country lose?

“Lions are the single major attraction for tourists.  If they disappear the tourism market will suffer enormously and Kenya will lose whatever credibility it has in conservation.”

Is the practice of poisoning wild lions with  Furadan still taking place?

“FMC, the company that makes Furadan, has attempted to buy it back in Kenya, and poisoning seems to have slowed but it has not stopped.  Furadan is still widely available in Tanzania, Uganda, Botswana and elsewhere, and lions and other animals are still being poisoned in those countries.  Given the impossibility of controlling the spread and use of poison once it is in Africa, the manufacture and importation of this stuff must be totally banned by governments.”

Furadan or Carbofuradan is manufactured by the American company, FMC Corporation. A single grain can kill a bird. 60 Minutes produced a story on the insecticide’s use in Kenya to poison lions. A very small amount could kill a whole group of lions. (A five minute video overview is on YouTube).furadan
The insecticide is being laced into dead animals such as goats and cows, so that lions will consume them and ingest the poison. It is so toxic it has been banned in EuropeSixty-two lions have been killed by poisoning in the last 6 years.

poisoned lions

What Can I Do?

The work of a non-profit lion conservation organization was written about here on EcoWorldly recently. Lion Guardians works with local farmers and conservation biologists to foster a mutually beneficial environment for wild lions and domesticated livestock. Supporting such worthy organizations can make a difference. Also traveling to Kenya with a reputable tour company can stimulate the local economy and contribute to conservation.

Aside from those activites one could forward this article, read more on the subject, teach your own children, or try to start a fundraiser in a school or church for Lion Guardians. You could also start, or join a Facebook club for Kenyan Lions.

Image Credit: Pride of Kenya,

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About the Author

Hello, I have been writing online for some time, and enjoy the outdoors. If you like, you can follow me on Google Plus.

19 Responses to The Last Lion in Kenya

  1. David Y.Mascall says:

    This little lion cub was found abandoned on Solio Ranch in Laikipia and was raised and financed by me at the NBI Animal Orphanage. The picture was given to Alice Owen of Born Free by me and was offered with the hope that she might be exposed to the public with the sentiment that indeed “she might be the last living lion” in 20 years if we can’t stop the slaughter.

    David Y.Mascall.

    • Mary Williams says:

      Please get to know your own daughter and granddaughters. In 20 years you may be dead and they tragically will never have lnown you.

  2. imnotahippie says:

    The human race is doing an excellent job of obliteratig life that took millions of years to evolve.

  3. Jonah Johansen says:

    The faux environmental groups in America willingly stand by while the native populations of Africa and Asia exterminate virtually every big cat, every elpehant,every bear and every other creature Chinese “Medicine” wants a part of.
    They close down a Tiger preserve in India because the locals have killed the last tiger,and you get dead silence from the phony environmentalists.
    They will gladly destroy the livelihood of thousands of American with some dubious theory about a minnow but sit on their hands as wildlife in the 3rd world is wiped out.

    After all not being accused of being racist trumps everything doesn’t it. When given the choice between speaking ill of people of color and showing moral courage, limousine liberals reveal their real priorities and the worlds endangered creatures don’t even make the list.

  4. kill poachers says:

    we should just kill all poachers seriously kill them in brutal ways maybe they will stop then

  5. Jake Richardson says:

    Thank you very much David for posting your comment on this article. I am so glad you found it and shared your part of the story.

  6. High-Tech says:

    Needs more attention…

  7. bob says:

    Jonah Johansen’s statement has to be the most ridiculously ignorant, unintelligent and misguided sentiment i have read in a very long time. read a book, do some homework, Jonah. then come back and say something intelligent and accurate. if you’re capable.

  8. David Y.Mascall says:

    For those that might be interested, I have some other wonderfull pictures of Gabbs and other lions that were raised by me at the Nbi Animal Orphanage and information on what homeforpaws is trying to do to address the drastic decrease in the lion population in Kenya.
    In response to “kill poachers”, the answer to that issue is to employ them in anti poaching activities,create employment for them. “Set a theif to catch a theif” was used by many park wardens.

  9. Jake says:

    David, do you have a twitter account, or are you on Facebook?

    I could friend/follow you there and then send you an email address.


  10. David Y.Msacll says:

    Hi Jake, I am in the bush this weekend talking to communities about ways of reducing human/predator conflict. Webb + twitter should be organized by next week. I can be contacted on

  11. felixthecat says:

    The population of Africa will at least double in twenty years. There is no hope at all for African wildlife as long as over-population is unaddressed.

  12. Mufasa says:


  13. red the lioness says:

    Flelixthecat has it about right. Hopefully, the H1N1 will thin the human race out, and leave the wildlife alone. 🙂

  14. Jess says:

    Great article! This is information that definitely deserves more publicity. Kenya’s lions are not only an important environmental issue, but also and economic one for a country so dependent on tourism.

  15. We learned everything from animals. We were unable to aware of society, we learned it from animals in the past how to socialize. We learned how to fly from the birds….. aerodynamics is based upon exactly the same principles. We even learned hunting from them… But then we have started to implement our own ways to manage not ourselves but them….. Our Greed is destroying the overall process………………….. Too sad….

  16. David,

    Well done to you. I wish there were more like you and may be animals will have a chance to survive the greed and cruelty of the humans.
    How is the lion now? Do hope she is well.

  17. Pingback: 25 Lions Rescued from Circus Cages | Care2 Healthy & Green Living

  18. Pingback: Congressman Ate Lion Meat | PlanetSave

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