March 22, 2023

The Kenya Wildlife Service has come under fire after news that a young lion in captivity has been sterilized.

According to estimates, the Kenya now home to some 2,589 lions. There were around 30,000 in the 1970s. So when the local Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) decided to perform a vasectomy on one of the young captive lions in their care, many voices have spoken out against this project. In vain.

The majority of protesters asked the structure to release the animal into the wild rather than sterilize it. According to them, this choice would have allowed this young 3-year-old feline to breed freely and increase the population of lions, which are endangered.

Despite everything, the vasectomy took place last week and, this Sunday, January 29, the KWS made a point of explaining its decision through a press release published on Twitter. The structure, located in Nairobi, responds directly to its detractors and assures them that the idea of ​​​​a release was not viable.

The KWS team recalls its main mission, namely “the rescue of animals in distress, orphans and injured wild animals”. The latter are fed and rehabilitated in captivity and “when wild animals are bottle-fed, they lose their natural instincts”, develops the structure.

Reproduction “not permitted”

“If they are released into the wild, they are vulnerable. Cats in particular end up being problematic because they seek easier prey.

Also these animals are not eligible for release. Kept in captivity “in the best of conditions,” according to the KWS, they serve as a showcase to “enhance local tourism, conservation education, and outreach to schools and the general public.”

Breeding is simply “not allowed in captivity centers”, defends the establishment. Populations are therefore “managed” through “appropriate interventions” such as the vasectomy undergone by this young lion.

The KWS ensures that it is mobilizing in parallel against the disappearance of the king of the felines, in particular through the “National recovery and action plan for the lion and the spotted hyena (2020-2030)”. The latter aims “to restore and maintain viable populations of lions and their wild prey, while minimizing conflicts [entre l’homme et la faune, ndlr] and maximizing value for local communities”.

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