The Namibian (Windhoek)
15 September 2008
Posted to the web 15 September 2008
Namibian experts will draft a national strategy to conserve the country’s approximately 900 lions, which mostly live in protected areas.
While they draw many tourists, they are also a problem for farmers living on the borders of game parks.
The strategy is part of a larger project: in 2006, southern African countries set the goal of preserving the region’s lion populations and of striking a balance between their value for tourism and trophy hunting and the threat they pose to livestock in farming areas.
The Directorate Nature Conservation of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism held a two-day workshop last week to draft the national strategy.
Representatives of the Ministry, the agricultural unions, local non-governmental organisations such as AfriLeo, Namibia Professional Hunters Association (Napha), the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) and scientists who did research on predators, as well as representatives of private game farms such as Ongava and Erindi, attended.
The workshop is seen as being of the utmost importance to farmers, especially those bordering Etosha.
“The biggest problem is the poor condition of the fence south of Etosha, which causes the movement of lions to farms and causing huge damages which influence the profitability of farmers,” a representative of the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU) told The Namibian afterwards.
“A further problem is that there is no effective process to remove lions from conflict areas.
The problems spread further to farms where game and predators are kept mainly for tourism and hunting and the owners do not try to prevent the predators from moving to bordering cattle farms.”
One of the possibilities to be discussed further with Government is to look at a sustainable hunting quota system for certain areas.
The greatest concern for farmers is the condition of the southern border of Etosha, which is also part of the veterinary cordon fence.
Farmers say they are prepared to maintain the fence if Government upgrades it first.
As soon as the conflict between people and lions is addressed, the conservation of lions could be further promoted, delegates resolved.