Removal of Problem-Causing Lion

View of arid Kunene Region, Namibia.

Following intensive monitoring and conflict mitigation by the Lion Rangers and other project partners, the difficult decision was taken for the male lion XPL-131 to be removed from the communal areas of Puros and Sesfontein. This decision, undertaken by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT), at the repeated request of the local communities, was not undertaken lightly, but done so in accordance with Namibian Law (No. 4/1975), prioritizing human-safety when all reasonable human-wildlife conflict mitigation options have been exhausted. The Lion Rangers, local communities, and MEFT, take the responsibility of safeguarding Namibia’s wildlife incredibly seriously.

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Veld Assessment and Monitoring in Anabeb and Sesfontein

Collared desert-adapted lioness, Sesfontein Conservancy.

Erratic rainfalls are bringing a new set of challenges to desert-adapted lion monitoring in northwest Namibia. Over recent weeks the Lion Rangers, MEFT staff, and IRDNC Human-Wildlife Support Teams have been working round the clock to keep tabs on Kunene lions and limit human-lion conflict. This has proven particularly challenging in areas shared by farmers, their livestock, and lions where other prey is low.

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New Early-Warning Towers

Early-warning tower materials arriving at Ganamub, Sesfontein Conservancy

This past week the Lion Rangers and IRDNC Human-Wildlife Conflict Response teams headed to the conservancies of Sesfontein and Puros to deploy another pair of early-warning system towers. This innovative new system of collecting, storing, and disseminating lion data was pioneered by Dr. Philip Stander of Desert Lion Conservation and has become an invaluable tool and resource for communal herders in northwest Namibia as they manage the difficulties of living alongside the desert-adapted lions.

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New Desert Lion Paper

Desert-adapted lioness near the Hoanib River.

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.

This survey is the first of its kind in the area. It serves as an important baseline for assessing the effectiveness of activities to limit human-lion conflict going forward.

Lion Rangers and Rapid Response Team Work, April 2019

Lion Rangers and Rapid Response teams moving livestock; Sesfontein

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.

Collared lioness near Hoanib River
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