Tributes are pouring in for 'one of the world's oldest lions' after it was killed by herders.
The lion, named Loonkiito, was from the Amboseli-tsavo ecosystem in Amboseli National Park, Kenya - an area supported by a non-profit umbrella organisation within the Amboseli Ecosystem Trust which looks after 'the people, wildlife and habitats of the ecosystem'.
Lion Guardians - a conservation organisation dedicated to finding and enacting long-term solutions for people and lions to coexist - took to Instagram to announce the sad news of Loonkiito's passing on Wednesday, 10 May and to reveal how the big cat died.
Loonkiito passed away at the impressively old age of 19 - the average age of lions in the wild 13-years-old.
The post by Lion Guardians reads: "It is with heavy hearts that we share the news of the passing of Loonkiito (2004 - 2023), the oldest male lion in our ecosystem and possibly in Africa.
"He died yesterday, on the 10th of May 2023 at 19 years old. He was a symbol of resilience and coexistence.
"We at Lion Guardians feel privileged to have borne witness to his life and his legacy."
Lion Guardians explained Loonkiito's death as resulting from an 'uptick in human-lion conflict' caused by the end of a drought.
It explained a drought can make it harder for lions to hunt wild prey and so 'in desperation' lions 'often turn to take livestock'.
"Since livestock owners lost so many of their animals to the drought, they are particularly vigilant in watching over their remaining animals," the organisation continues. "Unfortunately, Loonkiito was caught up in this dynamic as he was starving and jumped into a corral in the middle of the night."
Followers of the conservation organisation's account have flooded to the post to offer their condolences.
One Instagram user said: "Thank you for your love and passion and compassion for these magnificent creatures. Rest In Peace Loonkiito!!"
"Oh my goodness what an amazing age - he does look elderly and weathered but what a gorgeous boy. Imagine the life he lived , what a warrior he must have been. Indeed a privilege to have been a witness to his reign," another user commented.
However, some social media users were outraged by the lion's killing.
A Facebook user commented: "Shameful that a world famous, amazing lion who survived 19 years in the wild would lose his life by herders. They could have scared him off as they knew he was frail. I hope these herders suffer consequences."
Noting it believes the situation was 'tough for both sides [the village and Loonkiito],' Lions Guardians resolves to remember the 19-year-old lion for his 'resilience and coexistence'.
It's Instagram post concludes: "In the following weeks and months, we hope to share the extraordinary story of Loonkiito’s life with the world."
Wildlife conservationist, Paula Kahumbu, told the BBC: "This is the breaking point for human-wildlife conflict and we need to do more as a country to preserve lions, which are facing extinction."