The Kenya Wildlife Service has come under fire following news that a young lion in captivity has been sterilized.
It is estimated that Kenya is now home to around 2,589 lions. There were about 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 spoke against this project. In vain.
The majority of protesters asked the structure to release the animal into the wild instead of neutering it. According to them, this choice would have allowed this young 3-year-old cat to breed freely and increase the population of lions, which are endangered.
NAIROBI, 28 JANUARY 2023, a three-year-old lion currently being cared for and rehabilitated at Stedmark underwent a vasectomy procedure at the KWS Veterinary Laboratory in an attempt to control breeding at the captive facility.
—Kenya Wildlife Service (@kwskenya) 28 January 2023
The vasectomy nevertheless took place last week, and this Sunday, January 29, KWS wanted to explain its decision through a press release issued on Twitter. The structure, located in Nairobi, responded directly to its opponents, assuring them that the idea of a release was not viable.
The KWS team recalls its main mission, namely “rescuing animals in need, orphans and injured wild animals”. The latter are fed and rehabilitated in captivity, and “when wild animals are bottled, they lose their natural instincts,” the structure develops.
Reproduction “not allowed”
“If they are released into the wild, they are vulnerable. Cats in particular end up being problematic because they seek easier prey.
These animals are also not meant to be released. Kept in captivity “under the best conditions”, according to KWS, they serve as a showcase for “enhancing local tourism, conservation education and outreach to schools and the public”.
Breeding is simply “not allowed in captive centers,” the establishment defends. Populations are therefore “managed” through “appropriate interventions” such as the vasectomy that this young lion underwent.
KWS ensures that it mobilizes in parallel against the disappearance of the king of cats, especially 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 conflict [entre l’homme et la faune, ndlr] and maximizing value for local communities”.