A lion that reportedly killed and ate three children from the same family at a conservation area in Tanzania is now expected to be relocated away from human settlements.
The lion, part of the Kope Lion project at the Ngorongoro Conservation Area—a protected wildlife site home to lions, wildebeests and zebras—killed the three children and injured another on Tuesday night, according to local newspaper The Citizen.
Ndoskoy Sangau, 9 ,Sangau Metui, 10, and Sanka Saning’o, 10, have been named as those killed, while 11-year-old Kiyambwa Namuyata escaped from the area with several injuries. The children all atteded Ngoile Primary School in the Arusha Region.
Head teacher, Lobulu Meeje, told The Citizen that the children were attacked while they were searching for lost cattle and that their skulls were the only parts left after the incident.
William Oleseki, the coordinator for the Kope Lion project, told the newspaper that the deaths on Tuesday were the first time that the initiative had seen humans killed by a lion.
« First of all let me admit that the children were killed by one of the lions in our Lions project. We have never seen anything like this despite the fact that a group of lions have been in the area for more than three years now, » he said.
Oleseki confirmed that the lion would now be relocated away from the project to an area far from human settlements, and said that the wildcats at the project are monitored by a team of 25 trained officials.
Attacks by lions on people and cattle in Tanzania are relatively common. The country relocated 36 Serengeti lions in 2020 after incidents involving the big cats and humans or cattle in the previous year, according to The Guardian.
Lions are big tourist attractions for Tanzania, with videos often filmed of people up close to them, but in 2019 the country’s tourism board started a campaign to « save our lions » over concerns about an increase in human contact.
« Tanzania has long been considered a leader in lion conservation. However, the lion’s survival is threatened by a number of factors, » the tourism board wrote.
« 60% of them live outside of protected areas, where they are vulnerable to habitat loss, human-wildlife conflict and the bushmeat trade. Across Africa, the number of wild lions has halved in just the last 20 years to about 20,000. »
In South Africa in 2018, a pride of lions ate a group of poachers who broke into a game reserve to hunt rhinoceroses, with only one skull and pelvis found by the authorities who responded to the incident.
Outside of Africa, a teenage girl was mauled to death by two lions in a nighttime attack outside a village in India in December 2020, while her cousin witnessed the attack after managing to hide in a water tank.