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11 Lions Found Dead In Uganda Via Suspected Poisoning

Lions from a wildlife park in Uganda were found dead in 11 suspected cases of poisoning. Lions are one of the animals included in the Red List of Threatened Species.  ( Joaquin Sarmiento | AFP/Getty Images )

Conservationist grieve over the killings of 11 lions at a national park in Uganda. They are believed to be victims of poisoning by villagers who blame wildlife for killing a cow.

Authorities found the remains on April 10 in the Queen Elizabeth National Park. Eight of the victims were lion cubs and the rest were three adult lionesses. They were part of a pride that included three male lions.

"I was so upset," said Jimmy Kisembo, a Uganda Wildlife Authority ranger and lion monitor. "Everyone on the scene cried. We have no morale." An investigation is being launched to find the perpetrators of the suspected poisoning. Kisembo adds that they're working hard to determine how to protect the remaining lions.

Lions Killed By Farmers In Uganda

The lions were discovered in a town called Hamukungu, The independent reports. Common suspicion suggests they were given the insecticide aldicarb, which is inexpensive and easily acquired. Aldicarb is a form of carbamate, which prevents an enzyme from breaking down the chemical substances needed for nerve impulse transmission. Excessive buildup of this element in the synapses may lead to a number of unpleasant conditions, the worst of which being death.

The State Of The Lion Population

It is believed only 19 lions are now left at the park, and experts warned of potential extinction across Africa. In 2013, a survey found that the population had dropped by a whopping 30 percent, and in Uganda, it is estimated there are only 400 of them. Some are calling for domestic animals to be banned from the park and for authorities to compensate farmers whose cattle are killed by the lions.

"It is still only a suspicion. We will try to establish the real cause of death," said Bashir Hangi, Uganda Wildlife Authority's communications officer.

Similar incidents have happened before. In May 2010, five lions were killed in the park in what's believed is another poisoning case. There are also much earlier cases, such as between May 2006 and July 2007, when 15 lions were killed in the same area, for the same reasons, by the same methods.

The latest poisoning cases comes just weeks after the United Nation's World Wildlife Day, which focused on big cats and a number of other endangered species. Lions are currently listed as "vulnerable" on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. It is now considered "critically endangered" in West Africa.

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