Lion news from Namibia -

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Feeling sad and sick from the whole trophé hunting business ...

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Posted (edited)

After the "eradication of the musketeers," with his last member dead on 04/14/2017, I see the news that Kebbel (male Orowau) had his head on the prize. This is an animal about 10 years old - possibly the oldest man in Koakoland / Damaraland whole. Dr. Stander in his project never mentioned that Kebbel had been involved in HWC conflicts. Excluding Rosh (father) was the only male lion that the five musketeers had contact throughout their life. Created largely after the death of the last musketeer, the MET is about to announce new measures to reduce such conflicts. When Dr. Stander started 20 years ago, the number of lions was extremely low, his numbers increased exponentially in his first 08 Project years, however, after 2009, a large number of deaths from hunting and trophy hunting (Males) again threatened the population. There was a bias, when we thought that the consolidation of this region as a successful international tourism product would consolidate this population of lions, the opposite occurred and again their numbers are again threatened. New actors want to participate in the rescue of desert lions, and there seems to be some organized movement for new NGOs operating in the area. The situation is very confusing. It is likely that certain practical positions of the Desert Lion Project do not satisfy community grants and private concessions, and both may have new guidelines, interests, and ambitions. I suspect that in the next renewal of the project license coordinated by Dr. Stander there will be a rupture or installment. It seems that not only are lions pressed but also those who protect them and Kebbel imminent death will be the most visible image that "Namibia" no longer values desert lions and wants to put an end to the lion's ongoing conservation efforts in the region.




It is very sad to see the whole effort of a lifetime go away. At the time, the change in attitude regarding the periodicity of the disclosure of information on the site was a symptom that something has changed. A new ingredient emerged last year: Desert Lion Conservation Foundation - - which began exploring lions' social media (facebook) and Dr. Stander's project. In its pages there is no distinction in realizing that they are two different Projects, as well as the Project of Conservation Lion of the Desert does not divulge any information on the existence or not of some partnership between both. There is discomfort with this situation. I fully rely on the practices of approach and monitoring of the Desert Lion Conservation Project. By not using social media, nor any approach to the sentimental appeal, the same runs the risk of isolating himself in his "scientificity." People want to participate, want to follow and are hungry for information, and in the absence of an official channel, others take on this role. As for internal conflicts, unfortunately I have only one opinion, many of them by the way, but nothing concrete can say. Something is going to change, hopefully lions will survive such changes



For those who read on the site "NEWS 2006 to the latest news," it is clear that over the years the MET has not given due importance to the routine deaths of lions, including entire clans have disappeared (Hoaruseb !!!). There are so many deaths that it is not worth trying to rank in order of importance ..... and witnessing the "institutionalized" death of Kebbel is a mortal blow to all who work and support the conservation of the unique and magnific lions of the desert.

Edited by Matias Cox
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Posted (edited)

So sick of hearing about Namibia's so-called wonderful conservation success story. Yeah, they do have more numbers of animals now than they did, but it's all increasingly a mini-replica of the SA - 'managed' game farms on private land. And in the conservancies, it's either the locals killing them for revenge or horns and bones or rich hunters killing them for horns and hide. For those who value the 'wild' in 'wildlife', there is nothing remotely 'sustainable' about Namibia's approach to conservation. The institutionalized killing of  wildlife has been going on for a while now - with the rhino hunt, now the Kebbel hunt. Once a country starts down this path, turning their back on the easy money is hard.

Edited by Sangeeta
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Thrilled (and surprised) to report that they have withdrawn the problem animal trophy hunting permit for Kebbel!

It seems that the petitions were heard and that the MET was responsive to the international outcry against this hunt.


All credit to MET and I stand duly corrected re what I said about them in my previous post. Good on them!


The Namibian Hunting Association is having a hissy fit in response:

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The latest MET action plan for managing human-wildlife conflict in Namibia: Lion Management Plan 20161222_V1.pdf


Plus this response by Izak Smit to NAPHA's letter referenced above (I called it a 'hissy fit' in my previous post). This post below was on FB and I have copied it here as is, because I thought it raised a number of interesting points.



Questions and ANSWERS written by Izak regarding Napha's Press Release :Lion Hunt Campaign ( see attached Napha's statement )



Sanity has prevailed. The Minister of Environment and Tourism of Namibia has heeded the warnings and information regarding the doubt cast on the sustainability of hunting the Desert Lion male, Kebbel, also known as XPL 81 as well as the non-compliance with the new recommendations made for the amendment of the National HWC Policy of Namibia 2009 (see response to NAPHA s letter).
The Minister, in our opinion has risen above, and has broken the old bureaucratic mould and culture maintained by some of his senior office bearers, the “my way or the high way” approach and has proven that he takes his mandate to protect Namibia’s resources seriously, despite undue pressure and criticism from both pro and anti-hunting lobbies. For this we commend him.

Hunting in Namibia is a much- needed industry in Namibia. The new recommendations, accepted and officiated by the MET s permanent secretary, Dr Malan Lindeque, however, clearly warns against abuse and opportunism that has frequently been the result of so-called “problem animals” that ended up providing a window to select and hunt trophy quality animals that were not the “problem animal” in question. HWC Policy and protocol and CITES recommendations often become the victims of greed and corruption and this is the problem.

The increase in Human Lion Conflict incidents as of late gives the false perception that Lion numbers have increased beyond control. This phenomenon can be attributed to factors like the harsh droughts and resulting diminished prey density. Desert adapted Lion population numbers have been revised downwards by the MET from 150 to 120 which proves this point. The more effective the increasing measures to manage and mitigate Human Lion Conflict becomes, the more Lions and cubs will succumb to starvation and numbers might decrease dramatically, “naturally” and therefor “govern” itself. 

Let’s debate the arguments offered by NAPHA.
“NAPHA would like to express its disappointment with the 
1)“ILL-INFORMED” public outcry towards a NAPHA member and outfitter regarding the marketing of a
2) “TROPHY LION” as per letter issued to Sesfontein Conservancy by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) for 
3)a HUMAN WILDLIFE CONFLICT LION. This last resort effort was made by the MET in order to manage human wildlife conflict and, in part, 
4) re-imburse those affected by this conflict” 


Let’s analyse this:
1) Define “ILL INFORMED” – We ve known and monitored the pride in question, amongst others, for the past 5 years and have the photographical footage accumulated through regular sightings to prove it. We have assisted the DLP and Sesfontein farmers (successfully) a number of times in HWC prevention and management and concur with the researcher’s recommendations and concerns regarding gender skewing ratio of on average 0.18 males for each 1.0 female and the fact that some males has to “service” 7-9 wide spread small prides. This speaks for itself in terms of the vulnerability of the adult male population of which Kebbel, XPL 81 is one. The NAPHA member in question in his marketing campaign advertised the male as RARE animal and a unique opportunity which surely confirms the fact that the hunt cannot be sustainable by own admission?


2) Define “TROPHY LION” in this perspective. If a permit had been issued for a TROPHY LION, surely the CITES recommendations would’ve been followed as well as the researchers recommendations? In both instances, this hunt would have been non-compliant in terms of age, gender, impact on population etc, etc.?! It should be clear that such a hunt would not be sustainable.


3) If a HUMAN WILDLIFE CONFLICT LION permit had been issued, let’s look at the National HWC Policy 2009 read along with the December 2016 HWC Management Plan as accepted by the MET.
Some of the requirements are proper identification, motivation and verification of ID from a second party, pre-determined time frame within which the hunt should take place, perpetual harassment by the marauding Lion and consideration of the animal’s status in the population etc. We need to see the original report by Steven Kasaona, the ranger in question, however, we know the incident took place back in early June, we were there! We also know that the one incident took place near Ganamub and that the culprits were the Hoanib pride consisting of two young females and their brother as well as the older female, Einstein, XPL 59 and her four young cubs. The Ganamub farmer’s water pump had broken down and they had to temporarily move with their cattle. Being creatures of habit, some cattle returned to the now closed kraals and became stragglers, unsupervised and easy prey. Some cows were taken and shortly after this we found Einstein dying, her cubs clearly dead somewhere already. This happened not long after the four Lions, including Tullamore, the last Musketeer, had been poisoned at Tomakas……. makes you think. Einstein was photographed few weeks before with healthy bouncing cubs…. . During this time, we got a report of no less than 12 Lions that were involved in conflict in this area. The incident 13 km West of Sesfontein as well as the one just South of it where the two Donkeys had been killed. Deduct the four Hoanib Lions involved in the Ganamub kill from twelve and you have 8 left. Incidentally the Orowau pride, including Kebbel, consist of 8 members. These Lions had been reported to have taken the Donkeys. Of these Lions, surprise………….., guess who gets earmarked as the culprit……? Yes, the big, black maned trophy male Lions, who would’ve thought?! We also know it was a once off and not a perpetual incident. That was back in early June. The hunt was recently advertised for 1-14 August or 1-14 September…….TWO MONTHS TO THREE MONTHS LATER…does this still qualify as a PROBLEM ANIMAL HUNT….? Not in terms of the National HWC Policy…. No it does not! Has the “identified culprit’s” status and role been considered when “sustainability” had been evaluated or analysed…., again a thundering…No!


4) “Re-imburse those affected by this conflict” – Our sources from within the Big Three Conservancy management structure maintains that the conservancy on average receives N$32 500 for such a Lion Trophy. In this instance, it was advertise for USD65 000 or N$845 000. This specific Lion has drawn many tourists and filled many Lodge beds over many years as a tourist attraction and is clearly worth a lot more to the community alive than dead. Tourism loses, as tourist boycotts are getting real, the community lose a big asset, but gets thrown a bone. The Donkeys were apparently not kraaled and if they were compensation paid to the farmers would have amounted to N$250 per donkey….2 x N$250 = N$500…. the amount “those affected by this conflict” would’ve received versus the N$845 000 the hunting outfit would’ve received…?


“This seems to strike at the heart of the general misunderstanding about the role of conservancies as well as protected areas and a general ignorance of landscape ecology overall. It seems that the public thinks of these areas as something akin to large zoos, offering absolute protection to every single individual animal, rather than conserving populations and balancing land use for all Namibians.
Let’s look at the content and context
• “the general misunderstanding about the role of conservancies as well as protected areas” – 
The general understanding is CONSERVATION of wildlife with SUSTAINABLE UTILIZATION and conservancies are zoned accordingly to accommodate this? Where does “Landscape ecology” stand in relation to unsustainable offtake, which clearly is the case here considering the pride in question? ** Also note that the researcher in his recommendations emphasized that given pride dynamics and vast ranges the OVERALL population must be considered when determining sustainable utilization before offtake.
• “it seems the public thinks of these areas as something akin to large zoos, offering absolute protection to every single individual animal rather than conserving populations…”
Apart from lashing out condescendingly to non-consumptive tourism here the author claims to, in this instance “conserve populations” by shooting the only known reproductive male on which at least 4 small prides, Orowau, Hoanib, Okongue and Floodplain Lions, depend to pro-create.??


“Due to these ill-informed and unfounded facts being distributed widely through various social and media platforms blame is being placed on all the wrong parties”
Let us look at this
• Compared to the “ill-informed” the author should maybe divulge the basis of her “superior knowledge” by advising whether a proper and current scientific based report by and recommendations from the Desert Lion Project Researcher has been obtained/requested/observed to ensure the sustainability and moral ethics of this proposed hunt. If not, why not and what basis or information was used to ensure this? In other words, explain your claim of being “well informed”?
Also if blame has been placed on the wrong parties…. who should be blamed instead?


“NAPHA holds a very good relationship with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, justifiably by being an organization which stands on firm principles and beliefs and by actively participating in strategic planning and mitigation”
• It is good to hear as Namibia needs such an organization. The hunting fraternity, by its own admission, needs to clean up its act. Typically, corruption and greed has in some instances blemished the industry’s reputation and knowledge of this adds to the frustration of the public. Through responsible and ethical conduct, strict regulation and discipline and resisting the lure of the mighty dollar at all cost, especially in the big game industry this could be turned around. It has been proven in the past that mere expulsion of unethical members does not deter them from going about their business as usual. As a result, the ethical operators are tarred with the same brush. Maybe NAPHA should get statutory powers affording it the tools to cancel hunting licences and permits in order to enforce a good code of conduct. They do not deserve to be criticized all the time for the misconduct of others.


“The Ministry of Environment has justly followed its mandate and instructions as per our National Constitution in trying to manage human wildlife conflict in a way that recognizes the rights and developments needs of local communities, recognizes the need to promote biodiversity conservation, promoting self-reliance and ensuring that decision-making is quick, efficient and based on the best available information”
• This statement is factually flawed- here is why.
The MET does NOT have, by own admission, the capacity to manage and mitigate Human Wildlife Conflict and the new National Policy will emphasize the need for conservancies to do it themselves and by outsourcing assistance from NGOs and other organizations or individuals. As recent as last week an Action Committee saw the minister to put their case forward. The essence of their frustrations, arguments and pleas were the ineptitude and lack of political will of the MET regarding the plight of the communities suffering because of HWC. The author is part of that committee. The MET does not engage in practical HWC Management, mitigation or prevention. No initiatives have been implemented and nothing is being done in this regard in Kunene region. The ONLY initiative underway and implemented currently in the conflict areas pertaining to Desert Adapted Lions is that of Torra Conservancy’s joint effort with Desert Lion Human Relations Aid, DeLHRA for short, through which kraals are upgraded and Predator deterring lights are commissioned, crackers distributed and assistance been given in general. This has proven successful and is being rolled out. Successful HWC management, however, would lead to LESS OPPORTUNITIES for the hunting fraternity to convert “problem animals” into Trophy hunts, so in the author’s opinion, poor HWC management or prevention suits the agenda of some less ethical hunting outfits and it may even be blocked in certain areas because of this agenda. Reference to this is being made in the new HWC Management Plan of December 2016 and not merely the opinion of the writer.


“The Ministry and NAPHA also recognize that it will never be possible to eradicate all human wildlife conflict, but that conflict has to be managed in the most effective and efficient way possible. It should also be recognized that people and wildlife live in an interconnected and dynamic environment, that land use patterns are changing and that wildlife distribution patterns equally are changing, as animal populations recover and recolonize former parts of their distribution areas.
• Granted, but other than agreeing on the need for efficient HWC Management, what is being done to mitigate and prevent it. Is the author advocating “managing” by identifying and shooting the culprits or is the emphasis on prevention and measures like early warning, deterring etc? Does management in this context imply hunting opportunities afforded through conflict or what is the authors interest and bona fides in this regard? Through measures like the upgrading of kraals, monitoring through collaring together with an early warning system and properly geared and trained Lion rangers the frequency of incidents can diminish which will proportionally strengthen the compensation fund enabling market related compensation in the incidents that slip through the net surely? Of course, If found sustainable backed by scientific data and justification and motivation, utilization should be an option, but only then, especially regarding protected or threatened species.


“The claims that this specific male Lion is the “last male desert lion”, is factually not correct. Furthermore, various communities have been threatening to poison or shoot the remaining lions in the affected areas, should actions not be taken to interrupt this problem.”
• Correct, it is not the last male desert Lion with reference to the whole population. However, it is the last known adult male Lion in the Sesfontein and Purros Conservancy and considering the grotesquely skewed gender ratios is crucial for the survival and pro-creation of the 4 prides in its home range thus critically vulnerable. The communities have been frustrated by the ineptitude of the MET and the lack of initiatives and undertakings to institute effective HWC Management in their areas. This has to be corrected by the MET through promoting and assisting NGO’s similar to DeLHRA who can change all this in collaboration with the conservancies and other NGO’s and stakeholders. Recent successes in Torra conservancy has proven this. To exploit the current plight of the farmers by fanning the flames in order to create more hunting opportunities is nothing short of scandalous and moral bankruptcy. The long-term benefits of non-consumptive tourism outweighs consumptive tourism benefits by far and should be cherished and protected. Tourists are not ignorant and poor conservation practises will be punished by them as is evident in the Purros area.


“As is stipulated in the letter issued to the Conservancy, all possible measures were taken to prevent conflict. MET was however requested to deliberate again regarding this matter and will revert back to NAPHA shortly.”
• The author has not yet been privy to the content of the letter and do not understand what is meant by “all possible measures were taken to prevent conflict”. Conflict with whom or what? Requesting MET to deliberate again and revert back is good and well, but what does the author hope to achieve. Lion numbers will remain the same or given the scarcity of prey might diminish. Lions will remain a protected species and might obtain endangered status at the Manilla CITES meeting in October which is around the corner. The current CITES provisos will remain and the lack of sustainability and gender imbalance will remain for a long time. If anything, HWC management will improve if the conservancies will accept the help offered to them by instances like DeLHRA, so problem animal hunting opportunities will diminish, and if they surface it will highly likely be limited to sub adult lions or females again subject to HWC Policy limitations and provisos.


• IN SHORT- Why does the author pull out all stops in order to get authorization to shoot Desert Lions. Could it be because their RARE status inflates the price tag and guarantees exaggerated profits? They are called RARE for a very good reason and this should be accepted.


• Putting more pressure on the Minister who has acted in good faith and in the interest of Namibia’s protected species, is uncalled for. Imagine the potential damage to tourism if he should nilly willy reverse his decision. The economy does not need this.


In conclusion, hunting and trophy hunting and utilization is an important industry in Namibia and should be promoted and sustained, however singling out rare and protected animals for hunting that is clearly not sustainable should not be allowed if the industry is to survive. The majority of people by far, will not allow this any longer it seems."

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It is fascinating that the Namibian hunting industry has just come out against canned lion hunting in South Africa. I have a strong suspicion that at least part of the reason for this is the fact that it has to show that it sincerely cares about conservation and preserving wildlife considering all the current poaching and hunting of endangered species. I could begin to take NPHNA (Namibia Professional Hunting Association) slightly serious if they stopped advertising hunting for cheetahs and rhinos, both of which are simply endangered species. They also make claims how much available wildlife is to hunt. 

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