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Matope finds a new home

Date Published: 11 Jan, 2012
Matope finds a new home

Matope in his new home

Matope and three other lions were given to Jim Cavanaugh of Hopcraft Ranch by Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and have been living there since 2002. The first animal, Rana, a lioness, was donated to the ranch from the Nairobi Animal Orphanage in 2002. Two lions, one of them, Matope, were problem lions from the Kitengela area and had previously been quarantined at the KWS Veterinary facility between 2000 and 2003 before being donated.  The fourth lion was also a problem animal at the Kapiti Plains. It was among the lions reported to have killed several heads of cattle at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI’s) Kapiti Plains Ranch between 2008 and 2009. After sustained efforts to capture it from ILRI Ranch, it moved to the Hopcraft Ranch where it was attracted to the other caged lions. Mr. Cavanaugh later baited the lion into one of the cages and has been taking care of them until six months ago when he left the ranch. Care of the lions was taken over by a Mr. Sandy Simpson.
On December 17, 2011, Mr. Simpson was arrested by KWS on the ranch for being in possession of suspected game meat weighing 208 kilos which he attested to. A colleague of his, a Mr. Michael Mbithi, was also arrested on site as he was delivering an ostrich carcass and other game meat weighing 97 kilos. The two have since been charged in a court of law for offences relating to possession of game meat.
Upon further analysis, KWS was convinced that Mr. Simpson was not capable of maintaining the lions in captivity using conventional husbandry guidelines. This led to the retrieval of the animals.
On December 18, 2011, KWS veterinary and capture team removed two lions from the ranch. The third lion was captured on December 19, 2011.  The fourth lion, Matope, could not be captured on this date because of tall grass and a man-made cave inside the enclosure in which the lion was hiding. The cave also had a swarm of bees which Matope disturbed and they started stinging it leading to cancellation of the capture operation.
Matope is a 13 year old lion, partially blind in the right eye and shy when approached. Despite this, Matope was in a stable state to facilitate capture and translocation. It was finally captured on the evening of January 10, 2012 and has been given a home at the KWS headquarters Animal Orphanage.

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