It is important that the perspectives of community members are incorporated into management decisions concerning desert-adapted lions on communal land. Residents of communal conservancies who have to pay the price of living with lions deserve to have their voices heard, even amplified. In late 2017 we surveyed a representative sample of livestock owners in core lion-range conservancies to assess local perceptions of living with lions. Since that time, preliminary results from these surveys have informed management recommendations and actions of the Northwest Lion Working Group. Today we are excited to announce the release of this research, which is being published in the journal Biological Conservation.
April was busy for the Lion Rangers and IRDNC Rapid Response teams, as almost the entire month was spent in the field responding to or preventing human-lion conflict (HLC) incidents. As reported by Rapid Response Team Leader and Coordinator Cliff Tjikundi, the Lion Rangers and Rapid Response teams “successfully responded to eight (8) lion conflict incidents/occasions (2 in Sesfontein, 2 in Anabeb, 3 Ehi-rovipuka and 1 in Torra), preventing further [livestock and lion] incidents/losses. The most crucial ones were the two (2) incidents in Sesfontein conservancy, at Ganamub and Elephant song, where the team was actively collecting livestock from the field into kraals at night. In the process two (2) cattle were killed, but this could have been worse as the situation lasted for about two weeks, before the lions returned to the Hoanib river. This was one of those situations where lions find themselves in areas with lot of cattle and are difficult to access with vehicles. The lions seem to use the geography to their advantage to avoid people.” In the past such situations have often resulted in lions being translocated. This process is led by Philip Stander of the Desert Lion Conservation Project (DLC). However, for the first time the Rapid Response teams and Lion Rangers resolved an intensive series of conflicts without the direct assistance of DLC! This is a monumental development in efforts to foster community-based conservation of the desert-adapted lion population. The greater responsibility that the Lion Rangers, Rapid Response teams, and community members can take in fostering safe human-lion interactions, the brighter the prospect for the area’s farmers and lions.
There have also been dramatic improvements concerning
lion incidents in Ehi-rovipuka and Omatendeka conservancies, as there were no
recorded livestock losses in April. This is due to improved lion monitoring by
a team consisting of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET), AfriCat North
and the Lion Rangers/Rapid Response teams. Efforts in this area have been
emphasizing regular patrols and monitoring along the Etosha and Hobatere
fences, while community engagement efforts are focusing on developing farmers’
willingness to report lion movements in farming areas.