THE Anabeb Conservancy in the Kunene region has expressed dismay at the uncontrolled and unlawful settlement of farmers within the conservancy, describing it as the cause of unwarranted deaths of wildlife in the area.
A statement issued by the conservancy’s chairperson Ovehi Kasaona earlier this week claims that non-resident farmers have unlawfully moved into the conservancy’s designated core wildlife area, and blamed the ‘illegal immigrant farmers’ for the death of a four lion pack that were found poisoned at Sesfontein two weeks ago.
A core wildlife area is a designated wildlife habitat in which human settlement is prohibited.
“Four lions were unlawfully killed by non-resident suspects, who happen to work for a certain farmer at New Post. We have learned with concern and disappointment that the highest offices in the region are advocating or are in favour of uncontrolled and unlawful settlement of farmers in core wildlife areas,” Kasaona stated.
He noted that police records indicate that most suspects in wildlife crimes in the Kunene region are illegal farmers who settled there unlawfully.
“The use of poison in our current law is not permissible, and whoever is found using substances of this nature should meet with the rough hands of the law,” he added.
Kasaona said while human-wildlife conflict mitigation measures are carefully enforced by conservancies in the area, non-resident farmers taking the law into their own hands by settling in these areas are the cause of unwarranted deaths of wildlife.
“These practices must be discontinued with immediate effect,” he stressed.
“Wildlife is our wealth, our economy and our pride. A dead lion is a loss to biodiversity, loss of income, and a hindrance to the breeding pattern of that species. Therefore, we strongly condemn this brutal killing of the innocent species in our conservancies without any remorse,” he said.
The Namibian previously reported that after the lion carcasses were found, the ministry of environment strongly condemned the killing of the lions, and urged people to stop taking the law into their own hands.
“The issue of hunting and killing protected species is becoming a serious challenge for Namibia. More and more people are taking the law into their own hands, and we really need to discourage this,” the ministry’s public relations officer, Romeo Muyunda, stated.
He added that the ministry does not want to influence the outcome of the case, but only hopes that if proven guilty, the suspects will be punished accordingly.
The three suspects arrested in relation to the deaths of the lions were denied bail in the Opuwo Magistrate’s Court in July, and their case was postponed to 22 October.