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13th May 2023

‘World’s oldest lion’ dies after being speared to death in wildlife park

Callum Boyle

world's oldest lion

Loonkito, 19, was believed to be the oldest lion in the world

A lion believed to be the oldest in the world has died after being speared to death in a Kenyan wildlife park.

Loonkito, 19, was killed by a group of Maasai warriors on Wednesday night after being caught preying on livestock.

It’s believed that he got too close to a pen in the Amboseli National Park near Olkelunyiet village, forcing the warriors to take action.

After using their spears to move the lion away from their cows, the elderly predator was killed after suffering a stab wound to the head.

Conservationists around the world have mourned the death of the legendary lion, who had been admired by experts for his longevity, with African lions usually only living for up to 18 years in the wild, as per conservation group Cats for Africa.

A statement on Facebook from Lion Guardians described Loonkito as a “a symbol of resilience and coexistence.”

“It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of the passing of Loonkito (2004 – 2023), the oldest male lion in our ecosystem and possibly in Africa,” they said.

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) added that it was an “old lion who had issues” and that “a normal lion would go for wildlife inside the park.”

There is no official record to suggest that Loonkito is the oldest lion on the world however there are just 23,000 left in the wild with their population decreasing by over 90 per cent, according to African Impact. 

Almost all of the lions are said to live in Africa, with a small population also based in India.

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