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Africa Geographic Travel

Tullamore, the last of the famous ‘5 musketeers’ desert lions of northern Namibia, has been killed in the Okongue area, along with a lioness and two cubs, in the ongoing battle between rural cattle farmers and free-roaming lions. The lions were poisoned. Tullamore was the last surviving member of a group of 5 desert lions made famous by the movie ‘The Vanishing Kings’

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(XPL 93) or “Tullamore”, in better times. © Ingrid Mandt

Since the movie was made, Tullamore’s 4 musketeer comrades were all killed by farmers – three were poisoned, and one was shot in 2016. Tullamore was then moved to the Okongue area for his own safety. He then became the dominant male of a new pride, some of whom were killed with him in this latest incident. Both Tullamore and the lioness carried collars, which were allegedly burned after the killings. The killings may have happened a while ago, as Tullamore was reported missing by researcher Flip Stander in early April. 

Records going as far back as 1934 reflect these big cats inhabiting the northern Namib desert along the Skeleton Coast in Namibia. It was then observed that desert lions were common in the coastal mountains and riverbeds between the lower Kuiseb River and the Kunene River. It was believed that they were plentiful in the Kaokoveld and along the Kunene valley. The Skeleton Coast National Park was proclaimed in 1967, and since then, Namibian desert lions have been put on the map as an iconic species of this unique desert region.

Today the population of an estimated 150 lions is under pressure from human influence, with human-lion conflict the primary threat.

For more information about Namibia’s desert lions and to view a gallery of photos, click here.

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The ‘5 Musketeers’, before all 5 were killed in human-lion conflict © Republikein

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