(LONDON) — Wildlife authorities in Kenya are intensifying the search for Olobor, an iconic lion of the Maasai Mara National Reserve in southwestern Kenya.
The well-known lion, a member of the Black Rock lion pride, has reportedly been missing since mid-January.
“KWS [Kenya Wildlife Service] tasked the top management of the reserve together with ‘Mara Predators’ — a research team whose work is monitoring lions — to look for Olobor,” the KWS said in a statement Monday.
The update comes after reports circulated that the famous lion was possibly a victim of human-wildlife conflict, allegedly killed by a cattle herder in the reserve. However, according to the KWS, intelligence and investigation teams found “neither evidence nor information was gathered to prove the allegations.”
“We reassure the public that we will provide an accurate account of Olobor when the facts are established and proven,” the KWS said.
One of Maasai Mara’s most iconic lions, Olobor and the five-member Black Rock lion pride are a famed attraction of the Kenyan game reserve.
There are an estimated 2,589 lions in Kenya, according to the Kenyan Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife’s 2021 wildlife census.
Researchers say high densities of people living adjacent to the greater Maasai Mara ecosystem have resulted in lions coming into increasing contact with people and livestock.
“Although male lions will always be known as the king of the beasts, they certainly do not live the life of kings,” the Lion Recovery Fund, an initiative created by the Wildlife Conservation Network in partnership with Re:wild that aims to “double the number of lions in Africa,” said in September.
“They lead extremely vulnerable and brutal lives where safety is never guaranteed,” the fund said. “And while male lions certainly pose great danger to each other, humans remain the greatest threat that a lion will ever face. Human-lion conflict, retaliatory killing and poaching are the primary pressures from humans that put the future of lions in jeopardy.”
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