Informanté

11 October at 16:02  · 

Farmer arrested for lion poisoning

Marthina Mutanga

A MAN was arrested yesterday and will tomorrow appear at the Outapi Magistrate’s Court after confessing to poisoning and burying four collared lions at the Otjomapenda cattle post near the Ehirovipuka conservancy, Kunene Region. The 50-year-old suspect was arrested over the weekend after police officers traced his footprints from where the wildlife carcasses were buried with stones.

Romeo Muyunda, spokesperson of the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, said that the man admitted to poisoning the goat meat of his livestock that had been killed by the lions. “The lions returned to the goat they had killed, and consumed the poisoned meat. It is it believed that the two hyenas that were also found dead might have eaten the poisoned lion carcasses,” explained Muyunda.

A search party for the collard lions was sent out on Friday, 8 October, after those tracking the lions stopped receiving signals. The operation led to the discovery of one lion carcass, while three more lion carcasses and two hyena carcasses were discovered the following day on 9 October. Muyunda added that his ministry, along with private stakeholders, partnered to track the movement of lions using digital collars.

Active lion collars submit signals and data, making it possible to track movement. This was done to safeguard both livestock, and the lions, and mitigate human wildlife conflict. According to Muyunda, tracking the movement of the lions allows them to warn community members well in advance, and to ultimately enable desert lions to survive, while also allowing people to maintain their livelihoods.

Over the past few months, Namibia Desert Lion Conservation Project, Dr Philip Stander and his team have focused on further building their relationship with farmers and communities. The Rapid Response Team has also worked tirelessly, responding to incidents, call-outs and information sourced from the Early Warning System. Started by Dr Stander in 1998, the Desert Lion Conservation Project is dedicated to the conservation of desert-adapted lions in north-western Namibia. Its focus is to collect important base-line ecological data on the lion population and to study their behaviour, biology and adaptation to survive in this harsh environment.

The lions eke out an existence in the northern Namib Desert, and range over very wide areas in their quest for food and unoccupied territories. This can bring them into conflict with farmers situated in fringe areas, while equally catastrophic is the loss of lions which are subsequently poisoned or shot.