Iconic Desert Lion Kebbel Believed Poisoned



Kebbel (‘XPL81’) © Inki Mandt

Activist and conservationists Izak Smit and Inki Mandt have revealed on Mandt’s Facebook page that:


“He has not been seen by us or known tour operators in the area or locals since the suspected poisoning of XPL 59, Einstein, the Hoanib Lioness and her three (or four) cubs around the fourth/fifth of June this year. It now dawns that Kebbel, or XPL 81, the iconic, beautiful, black maned adult Lion, who has sired most of the next generation of Lions in the Orowau, Haonib areas has also been poisoned at Kanamub, West of Sesfontein in Damaraland Namibia.

“Whether he was with Einstein and her cubs when they fed on a carcass laced with poison at Kanamub early June or whether he was poisoned afterwards is unclear at this stage and more information will be sought.

Kebbel the Lion rose to fame in August this year when rumours surfaced that a hunting permit had been issued, a rumour denied by the Minister of Environment & Tourism, Mr Pohamba Shifta.

Mandts goes on,

Einstein died on the 6th June but the permit issued for the trophy hunt of Kebbel was revoked only on 1 st August by the Minister of Environment and Tourism, Mr Pohamba Shifeta. The outcry from the hunters “losing the hunt” as a result of this leads to a logical conclusion that the hunters must have known that Kebbel was still alive around this time and that he was only poisoned after 1st August…

Either way, the questions that arise are:

1)Has a criminal case been opened/investigated by the MET for the poisoning of both Lions (the DLP retrieved Einstein’s carcass and tissue samples would ve proven whether she had been poisoned or not, was this reported by DLP?)

2) Did the Desert Lion Project or DLP act on the mortality signal of Kebbel and if so why was it not made public? (similar circumstances as Tomakas poisoning of four Lions in April this year).

3) Why the secrecy………?

4) In most of these events, like in the Tomakas one, farmers consistently claim that appeals for assistance to the MET fell on deaf ears and they had to kill/shoot/poison the Lions to protect their livelihood. Some farmer’s rifles were confiscated so poisoning remained the only option…Why?

5) Would the collaring and monitoring and implementation of the early warning system (as requested by the Torra action committee to the Minister himself in a meeting) not have prevented both these incidents as well as the latest one at Melkbosrant on Wednesday where 86 goats and sheep have been killed by 10 Lions…??

*** The below excerpt from the Desert Lions Project website for reference. We believe these undertakings have not materialized and question the value of research if not applied for conservation of this PROTECTED SPECIES and in this instance prevention and management of conflict or HWC.

“With the growing wildlife populations the conflict between lions and the local people has intensified as lions are killing livestock more regularity. In protection of their livestock, farmers often shoot, trap, or poison lions. These local communities bear the costs of living with lions, but do not share equally in the benefits from tourism, and they receive little assistance in managing conflicts.”

Human-Lion conflict is arguably the biggest threat to Lions in Namibia, and elsewhere in Africa. There is need for proactive management of human-Lion conflict to ensure the long-term conservation of the species.”

” Lions are fitted with radio collars and are tracked and observed to record behaviour, movements, grouping patterns, reproduction and mortality.”

” Lions over the age of two years are marked or radio collared, and individual records are kept of all lions in the population. Emphasis is placed on monitoring lions that disperse and occupy new habitats, and on those that live near local communities.

Human-lion conflict is addressed by developing localized conflict management plans.”

“… The value of the unique Desert lions to the Namibian tourism industry is of great significance. However, to ensure the long-term conservation of Desert lions, we need to monitor their population ecology and manage human-lion conflict.”

Screenshot (24)
Kebbel observed in the Hoanib River moving towards the Mudorib Junction in July 2103

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