Human-lion conflict (HLC) has been on the rise in the areas bordering Palmwag Concession. In particular, around the Mbakondja area, a recent spate of HLC incidents have led to livestock mortalities and even in lions being shot with MEFT approval. This past week the Lion Rangers received a call of a cow being killed while herded in the field west of Khowareb. A woman was tending her goats and few cattle near an ephemeral waterpoint in the mountains when she reported two lions chased a cow away from the group. IRDNC Human-Wildlife Support Teams arrived within a few hours to find the remnants of the cow’s carcass and four lionesses resting nearby.
These uncollared lionesses proved difficult to follow throughout subsequent days. A team led by the Anabeb Lion Rangers, including staff from MEFT and the Anabeb Conservancy intensively tracked the lions through the mountainous area while the HWC Support Teams kept farmers informed of their movements. Farmers at Noue Pos, Otjitoveni, and Mbakondja eagerly participated in helping the team track lions in the rugged mountains and also helped by closely herding their livestock.
Over many nights the Lion Rangers were able to keep the lions from returning to area farms. This proved difficult in the rugged area and also because there is a lack of available prey.
While the plan had been to collar the lions this proved infeasible given the difficulty of reaching them in the mountains. Rather than track them back into the Palmwag Concession, the Rangers decided to emphasize addressing immediate conflict challenges in Anabeb. While this was a difficult decision to make, with limited resources it is important to prioritize the immediate needs of area farmers. The plan is to get this group collared as soon as possible.
Though it was challenging to follow the lions we learned a lot about the dispersal of game in the conservancy. While the western areas bordering the concession received little rain, areas like the one above near Khowareb were positively booming. Hopefully this portends a return of game and subsequent easing of human-lion interactions.