Albertina Nakale Windhoek-In a rather strange unfolding of events, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism has confirmed its preliminary investigation showed two lions have been seen in the Brandberg area close to a local lodge and are suspected to have killed 172 sheep. A report was received by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism on Monday that 172 sheep were allegedly killed by lions at Brandberg, Erongo Region near the White Lady Lodge. Following this report, the ministry’s spokesperson Romeo Muyunda yesterday said they immediately deployed officials to the scene to verify and investigate the incident. He said lions have however established themselves in the Brandberg area over the years coming from the Ugab River system. Muyunda said the 172 sheep killed are part of the 600 to 700 sheep kept and owned by the owners of the White Lady Lodge in an area where they operate a tourism business. “While we are concerned by so many sheep being killed by wild animals in one night, we are shocked about lodge operators keeping livestock in a tourism business area and very close to their lodge. This is a wildlife habitat area where the lions should be roaming,” Muyunda expressed. Asked whether the ministry will compensate the farmer for killed livestock, Muyunda said they do not compensate farmers. “We don’t compensate. We assist farmers that incur losses as a result of wildlife. Compensation is payment of full value of the damages. We don’t pay the full value of damages. We just offset,” he reiterated. However, he said the ongoing investigation would inform the ministry whether the farmer is eligible to be paid in accordance with the self-reliance scheme of the National Policy on Human Wildlife Conflict. The ministry confirmed that the lodge owners were assisted by some people in the area to construct lion proof kraals for the protection of the livestock, but these kraals have been built to a low standard and poor quality, which could not prevent this incident. The ministry advised that all predator proof kraals should be built with specific standards and specifications, which are available and can be provided by the Directorate of Wildlife and National Parks. In this regard, Muyunda stated officials remain in the area for further monitoring of this pride and possible further action to be determined if necessary. In order for the Ministry of Environment and Tourism to manage human lion conflict, Muyunda noted measures are being put in place and implemented in accordance with the North-West Human Lion Conflict Management Plan and the National Policy on Human Wildlife Conflict Management. This includes improved livestock husbandry, early warning systems and establishing rapid response units. “Despite our efforts to manage human wildlife conflict with the objective of bringing those to sustainable and acceptable levels, it appears that human lion conflict incidences are on the rise. High rainfall variability associated with the recently experienced drought influence the distribution of predators and prey species, as well as the movements of people and their livestock, and we see conflict incidences in areas where they are not expected,” he maintained. He therefore requested the public to be vigilant and report any sighting of these predators in areas where they are not expected, to the ministry or the conservancy offices. Furthermore, he said this incident should not be linked to the lions that the ministry translocated to the Erongo Mountain Rhino Sanctuary, saying those lions are still in Erongo Mountains and the capturing operation is currently underway. Caption (Pic; lions sheep): Major loss …Some of the 172 sheep killed by two lions in the Brandberg area in Erongo Region. – Photo:-Contributed.
2018-01-18 09:12:26 8 months ago