Meeting Loonkito, the world's oldest wild lion

Amboseli, Kenya

On 8 August 2021, after some birding and a short sighting of a pride of 4 lionesses and several cubs we were heading to Observation Hill when we saw some vehicles near the marshes. We stopped to observe some hyenas lingering around when suddenly Loonkito appeared and made his way through the line of vehicles. He was very relaxed; he didn’t seem to be bothered in the slightest - neither by the vehicles nor the clan of about 10 hyenas.

But this changed when suddenly a herd of elephants emerged, clearly heading for the marshes. Loonkito hesitated for a moment but then decided to retreat into the marshes. Some calm steps, a quick jump – and he fell very unregally into the dirty swamp water.

Luckily the elephants decided to circumnavigate the marshes on the other side. Loonkito hastily got out of the water, looking much less like a lion king, and crossing again the line of vehicles, going over to meet two of his ladies. However, those two did not seem very happy to see him – maybe because of the foul smell of the swamp water? 

After some short rest, Loonkito and the females parted ways and we decided to let him alone to recover from this inglorious incident.


Loonkito is now about 18 years old. He still reigns over a big pride of females and cubs, however, since 2017 he is on his own. That year his brother and comrade in arms, Ambogga, died in a territorial fight. Loonkito himself was badly injured but survived. Since then he fights bravely on his own to preserve his territory and his family.


He is one of the last real great lion kings of Africa!


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Comments: 5
  • #1

    Josie (Monday, 30 August 2021 01:57)

    What an amazing lion, love to be kept up to date on this great warrior.

  • #2

    Chris Lewis (Monday, 30 August 2021 13:53)

    Aw bless him he does look an old worrior Lovely to behold the king of the jungle. Stay safe you handsome beast

  • #3

    Chuck Trojak (Monday, 06 September 2021 05:34)

    I would love to hear a lot more of Loonkito and his brother and his pride or prides at one time. Thank you. Also the area that he is in.

  • #4

    Cynthia Webster (Saturday, 27 August 2022 15:23)

    Loved reading the story about this old warrior. Lions have always been my favorite big cats, especially the males. Reading this story almost brought tears to my eyes. May Loonkito and his pride keep living a longer life. Please keep me informed on his future life. Who was Loonkito's father?

  • #5

    Paul (Saturday, 29 October 2022 17:38)

    That lion is in great shape for being 18 years old and to still have a pride of females and cubs is fantastic.
    But I think he needs to keep some of his older sons around to help with other lions wanting to take over his pride .
    Maybe some of you may not agree with me , but I would like to see this old lion go somewhere with a few of his oldest lionesses in a big area but fenced so he can live out his life .