Desert lion. Photo: Tina Vinjevold
On 22 August, 2018, the Guardian newspaper ran an article under the “Radical Conservation” heading entitled, “Can Namibia’s desert lions survive humanity?”
This article highlighted recent human-lion conflict issues in northwest Namibia, with particular emphasis on two lion mortalities, one in Anabeb Conservancy and another in the Ugab river which makes up the border of the Sorris Sorris and Tsiseb conservancies. The Namibia Ministry of Environment and Tourism and its partnering organizations feel that the article contains a number of misleading statements by activists working in Namibia, and gives an incomplete picture of lion conservation in northwest Namibia. You can read the Ministry’s response, in-full, below.
Following the article’s publication, the Ministry and its partners reached out to The Guardian to have some of the misinformation corrected. While the newspaper remained committed to its reporting, several substantive changes were made to reflect the situation on-the-ground. Throughout the correction process The Guardian staff displayed the height of professionalism and commitment to hearing the full story. Their efforts are greatly commended.
Human-lion conflict in northwest Namibia remains a pressing issue. The Ministry and its partners are working hard to ensure that substantive progress is made for the benefit of rural farmers and communities in the northwest. Continue reading
Today staff from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC), the Namibia Nature Foundation (NNF), Deustche Gesellchaft fur Internationale Zuzammenarbeit (GIZ), and the University of Minnesota Lion Center, met in Swakopmund for a progress report and planning session on human-lion conflict issues facing rural communities in northwest Namibia. This meeting primarily functioned as an update from last September’s Northwest Human-Lion Conflict Management Meeting.
Over the first two weeks of June, conservancies across Kunene are participating in the annual Northwest Game Count. The largest road-based game count in the world, the NW Game Count brings together hundreds of conservationists to take stock of wildlife numbers. The purpose is to ensure that communal conservancies, their support organizations, and the Ministry of Environment and Tourism all the best possible information when it comes to monitoring wildlife and setting quotas.
In each participating conservancy, Conservancy Game Guards join with MET and NGO officials to retrace standardized routes marking a representative sample of conservancy environments and topography. The expertise of all involved is critical to ensuring the counts are thorough, accurate, and standardized across years. Luckily, NW Namibia now has a core of committed conservationists with a deep knowledge of the landscape and wildlife. Of course, we are always learning and each year the NW Game Count brings unexpected surprises.
A big hand for MET, IRDNC, and Namibia Nature Foundation staff for ensuring the count is operating smoothly. Thanks also to the myriad lodges and tourism organizations for volunteering vehicles and staff. Of course, none of this would be possible without the conservancies taking ownership over wildlife and leadership to ensure that species are sustainably conserved.
Over three days we were joined at World’s End by representatives from the German development bank KfW, GIZ – who consults the Namibian government, WWF-Namibia, and staff from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET). The topic of our extended discussion was how to unify approaches to human-wildlife conflict in northwest Namibia, with particular emphasis on integrating the Lion Rangers and early-warning systems. Following on the heels of an extended MET review of infrastructure needs to address human-wildlife conflict, the whole group focused on aligning resources to serve the needs of Kunene communities. Surveys from core lion-range conservancies clarified the scope of the challenge faced by rural communities. Due to the recent drought, many conservancy residents are suffering from decreased livestock herds; oftentimes affecting households at an order of magnitude greater the annual income.