Lion Rangers – Covid Chronicles

Here is a brand new video from Travel Channel Namibia starring the Lion Rangers, program co-founder Dr. Philip Stander, and TOSCO founder and Lion Rangers Program Coordinator, Felix Vallat. In this video you can hear Rodney, and Rapid Response Leaders Linus and Cliff talk about the work of the Lion Rangers. Thanks so much to Covid Chronicles for spending time with the Lion Rangers and for bringing attention to the challenges they face.

Understanding Human-Lion Conflict

Lion Ranger program co-founders, Dr. Philip Stander and Russell Vinjevold, provide an in-depth explanation on the challenges of human-lion conflict within communal lands in northwest Namibia. Dr. Stander explains the challenges faced by local communities in arid northwest Namibia. In particular, Stander emphasizes the give-and-take between community needs and the lions’ needs following the outcomes of drought and livelihood reductions, which have been exacerbated by Covid-19.

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TOSCO Lion Rangers Video

See this great video, created by Lion Ranger partner TOSCO, focusing on the work of Dr. Philip Stander of Desert Lion Conservation and including Puros Lion Ranger Berthus Tjipombo in a star turn. Felix Vallat, TOSCO Founder and Lion Ranger Program Coordinator, has been integral to supporting the conservation of Northwest Namibia’s desert-adapted lions for years. Dr. Stander is a co-founder of the Lion Ranger program and has been performing in-depth field research on the desert-adapted lions since 1997.

Puros Lion Ranger Berthus Tjipombo

Relief Food Distribution

Grateful food recipients and community conservationists.

The Covid-19 pandemic has touched all parts the globe, including limiting incomes to northwest Namibia conservancy residents. Beginning in March, staff at tourist accommodations and working for touring companies were sent home, with little certainty about when they will return to work. This dramatic and unexpected hit to local incomes immediately began affecting livelihoods and eroding people’s savings. Many parents rely on schools to provide their children with meals during the school year – the closure of schools is exacerbating food insecurity.

Conservation of wildlife cannot take place when people cannot meet their basic needs. Alongside IRDNC staff, and with support from TOSCO, and Oliver Adolph and Family, the Lion Rangers have been helping to distribute food relief in the southern Kunene Region. This past week Lead Field Assistant Jendery Tsaneb helped spearhead relief to affect farmers and community members. Packages of mealie paap, pasta, soup packets, oil, sugar, and tea were loaded on to trucks and delivered to meet the greatest needs.

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New IRDNC Short Video

For more than twenty-five years, Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC) has been leading the charge for community-based natural resource management in Namibia. Simply put, without the efforts of IRDNC founders and staff, Namibia’s communal conservancies may never have come into being. There are now more than 86 communal conservancies, encompassing more than 20% of Namibia’s land, with 227,000 people participating. IRDNC staff are central to the work of limiting human-lion conflict in northwest Namibia. The Lion Rangers’ work would be impossible without IRDNC’s ongoing support. Watch this great video to learn more.

An Urgent Translocation

Orphaned Kowarib cubs being translocated.

In February a female lioness, XPL-121, was shot near a farm in the Anabeb Conservancy. She had been struggling to feed her three cubs, due to low numbers of prey in the area, and was increasingly encroaching on farmers’ livestock. In the following days the IRDNC Rapid Response Teams, Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism staff, and Lion Rangers, worked tirelessly to try to capture the newly orphaned cubs. They were unsuccessful. This was considered an urgent matter as the cubs were unable to feed themselves. Thankfully, the Anabeb Conservancy stepped in. In the ensuing months conservancy management and members donated donkeys to feed the orphaned cubs and ensure their survival until they could be safely captured and translocated away from danger.

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Memorial for Garth Owen-Smith

Yesterday a large and diverse group paid tribute to IRDNC founder, committed conservationist, and hero to many Garth Owen-Smith at Wereldsend. Said TOSCO founder and Lion Ranger program coordinator Felix Vallat, “It was sincere, moving, inspiring…a perfect between Himba traditional funerals and a western one. Garth left a big space for us to grow and bloom, which we will!” The ceremony brought together people from across Namibia and the thoughts and prayers of a world of partners who could not return due to travel restrictions. There were private planes and traditional Himba marches, headmen from the north and local friends, hunters and wildlife advocates, a truly cross-cultural crowd of partners, all of whom were inspired by Garth’s message and commitment to making the world a better place.

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New Logger Tower in Anabeb

Another Early-Warning System tower, this one at Otjitoveni.

Over the weekend the Lion Rangers of Anabeb Conservancy, led by IRDNC’s Rapid Response Team, and partnering with Conservancy Game Guards and local villagers, erected another Early-Warning System tower at Otjitoveni. This farm is home to Lion Ranger Ronald Karutjaiva as well as IRDNC Rapid Response Team Leader Linus Mbomoboro. For more than two years Karutjaiva and Mbomboro have been working to limit human-lion conflict across the northwest, including setting-up Early Warning towers at numerous farms. During that period their attention has been taken from their own livestock and they have lost numerous goats and sheep to lions. Despite consistent efforts by local herders to play their part, a group of lions has made themselves too comfortable near Otjitoveni and it was decided the time was right to erect another Early Warning tower. Thanks to the Anabeb Conservancy for their help and for assisting Karutjaiva and Mbomboro so they can continue their work across the region.

Garth Owen-Smith, 1944-2020

Garth Owen-Smtih

On 11 April, 2020, Garth Owen-Smith, co-founder of Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC), and the widely-regarded ‘father’ of Namibia conservation passed-away peacefully. Garth dedicated his life to advocating for Namibia’s wildlife and wild places. His commitment to community-based natural resource management (CBNRM), was on-display throughout a career spanning six decades, which he primarily spent in northwest Namibia. His loss is felt keenly by all who work to maintain wildlife conservation in Namibia.

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