The Marsh Pride, lions in Kenya made famous after being filmed for many years in the BBC's "Big Cat Diary," was found poisoned and at least two lions, including a celebrated female named Bibi, have died.
"Thirteen lions poisoned on Sunday morning, two lions have died. Nine others are wandering about, five are very sick," wrote Wildlife Direct CEO Paula Kahumbu in a blog post Monday.
Kahumbu reported that the lions in the Masai Mara National Reserve were poisoned by consuming a cow carcass laced with carbosulfan pesticide, and that those allegedly responsible for the horrific act have been arrested.
"Three people were arrested, members of a powerful family who herd their cattle into the Mara Reserve at night," Kahumbu wrote. "Greedy, selfish, idiotic, thoughtless, unpatriotic … criminal.
"I hope the government throws the book at them. A jail cell in Kenya is a horrific place to spend the rest of your life. Kenyan law is the most penal in the world — crimes against endangered species like lions will attract a fine of Ksh 20 million ($200,000 USD) and or life imprisonment."
The BBC, which reported up to seven lions being poisoned and confirmed the arrests, wrote that lions have previously been poisoned in the region as retaliation for attacking the livestock of local farmers.
Bibi, a 17-year-old lioness, was famous for appearing on numerous editions of the "Big Cat Diary" from 1996 to 2008, the BBC reported, adding that its wildlife crew found her dead Monday.
BBC wildlife cameraman Mark MacEwen, who was on the scene, tweeted Sunday: "One of the more unpleasant sights of my career this morning, last night the lions of the marsh pride in the Mara were poisoned."
— Mark MacEwen (@MacEwenMark) December 7, 2015
According to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Patrick Reynolds of Governors Camp in the Masai Mara had received a call Sunday morning saying that some of the lions from the Marsh Pride were acting strangely, collapsing and suffering from spasms.
A Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit, funded by The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, was sent to the scene. From The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust on Monday:
Dr. Limo, confirmed that up to five lions had suffered from ingesting a poison of some description including a 2-year-old sub-adult male whose mother is Sienna, the lioness we have successfully treated for severe injuries on a number of occasions. Sienna remains unaccounted for, while the 2-year-old son has responded well to treatment and is looking brighter today, having been guarded all night to keep him safe from Hyenas as he recuperated.
Dr. Limo began treating the lions yesterday, and today the DSWT is flying in emergency supplies of Atropine Sulphate, an additional helpful antidote for poisoning.
As horrific as the killing of the beloved Cecil the lion by a hunter outside Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe was, this could trump that atrocity.
"RIP, Bibi," Kahumbu wrote. "We will miss you."
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