The environment and tourism ministry is taking steps to ‘capture and translocate’ a pride of 10 to 15 Lions suspected of having killed 86 goats and sheep in the Kunene Region last week.
The Lions will be taken “to areas where they will not cause any conflict with people,” the ministry announced yesterday.
“Only if there are challenges in capturing specific individual Lions of this pride, then such individuals will be destroyed, but our first priority is to translocate these animals,” the ministry said. It emphasised that human-wildlife conflict management was a top priority for the ministry, and required striking a balance between conservation priorities and the needs of the people who live with wildlife.
The ministry emphasised that it took human-wildlife conflict seriously.
“It is a complex and serious problem that, if not addressed appropriately and treated with the necessary understanding and respect, and managed effectively, can harm if not destroy conservation efforts and tourism benefits for the country.”
The statement was issued in the wake of reports that a Torra Conservancy farmer, Samuel Gawiseb, lost stock valued at more than N$100 000 last week after the group of Lions entered one of his kraals during the night and killed most of the animals inside. Only eight kids survived.
It is estimated that Gawiseb will suffer a financial loss of more than N$80 000, as the compensation programme for stock loss currently pays out merely N$200 for a goat and N$250 for a sheep, while their market value is more than N$1 000.
The ministry noted that preliminary investigations had found that the kraal in which the goats and sheep were killed was not strong enough “and was not built in accordance with the predator-proof requirements”.
The ministry recognised the role it plays in helping communities and farmers to reduce or manage conflict with wildlife, but said the responsibility does not rest with the government alone.
“It is the responsibility of all citizens, farmers, organisations and organs of state that engage in land use and that can be affected by human-wildlife conflict to take measures to avoid such conflict,” it emphasised.
“Every person has a general duty of care to take reasonable measures to prevent or minimise damage being caused or to be caused by wild animals.”
The ministry explained that human-wildlife conflict must be managed in a way that recognises the rights and developmental needs of local communities, promotes biodiversity conservation and self-reliance, and ensures that decision-making is quick, efficient and based on the best available information.
The ministry said it recognised the threat posed by human-wildlife conflict and was finalising a review of the national policy on human-wildlife conflict management, under which the human-lion conflict management plan for north-western Namibia was developed.
Criticism was levelled at the ministry over the past few days for failing to collar Lions in conservation areas in order to provide farmers with a monitoring and early-warning system.
On social media, many demanded that the lions be killed, though others warned that that would be a blow to conservation in the region.
The ministry was also urged to help farmers make their kraals predator proof and to teach them how to prevent conflict with wildlife.
Farmers who controversially gunned down six Lions in the Omusati Region said they were left with no choice as these big cats held the lives of their farm workers and their livestock hostage. The latest incident of marauding lions came in spite of several calls they made to Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) to address the Lion ‘menace’.
However, environment and tourism minister Pohamba Shifeta said the farmers’ actions were very disheartening as they had not only contravened the laws of the country but they had also damaged the country’s tourism industry.
“Our wildlife is not only protected by our national laws but also by the International Wildlife Convention. Now I am even getting international calls; people are complaining that Namibia is killing wild animals.
The Minister said he feels farmers could have called his officials when they spotted the predators. They also had the option of applying to him for those lions to be declared problematic.
That way MET officials could come and put the down the animals or a trophy hunter would be invited. A trophy hunter would have paid money that would go back into the community. Shifeta said the public had no right to kill endangered animals, even people who had hunting permits and that the only time members of the public could kill an endangered animal was in self-defence.
How can you help?
Many tourists are postponing their trip to Namibia in protest of wildlife policies, such as the annual slaughter of Cape fur seal pups and bulls, trophy hunting of wildlife, including endangered species, and the government policy allowing farmers to kill endangered species rather than implementing non-lethal methods to reduce predation.
If you are willing to postpone your trip to Namibia until the government changes its wildlife policies, please let the Ministry of Environment and Tourism know about your plans. This way, the government will be able to account for the financial losses that result from these wildlife policies.
You can send your comments DIRECTLY to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism here https://www.namibia-tourist.com/contact-namibian-tourism-ministry/
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