Eleven lions have been killed at Uganda’s most popular wildlife reserve, authorities have confirmed.
Three lionesses and their eight cubs were found dead at Hamkungu village, an enclave of Queen Elizabeth National Park on Wednesday.
There are estimated to be fewer than 100 lions in the park and just 400 in the entire country, the Ugandan Daily Monitor reports.
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“It is true we lost a pride, three mothers and eight young ones,” said Bashir Hangi, from the Uganda Wildlife Authority.
“We are suspecting poisoning,” he added. “The information we have is that they attacked someone’s cow but we are yet to establish who exactly.”
Herders often bring their livestock into the park for both grazing and water, particularly in the dry season, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.
Officials have launched an investigation into the deaths and vowed to punish those responsible.
“The sad reality is that people living near lions don’t have the luxury of simply avoiding them,” Michael Schwartz wrote for National Geographic after visiting the park last year.
“So, they naturally take matters into their own hands, which unfortunately often ends up with not one, but multiple dead lions, especially when inexpensive poison is involved,” he said.
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