NW Human-lion Conflict Management Plan

Progress was made with the development, approval and implementation of an action plan to systematically address incidents of human-lion conflict in the northwest of Namibia. The Ministry of Environment and Tourism took the lead on these developments. A workshop was held at Otjikoto Game Reserve on 11-12 Sep 2017 to discuss the technical aspects of the management plan. The meeting was attended by 17 key individuals from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, WWF-Namibia, Namibia Chambers of Environment, IRDNC, Desert Lion Conservation, Africat Foundation and the Kwando Carnivore Project. Discussions focussed on identifying the priority areas of intervention and to develop an action plan for implementation. This led to the establishment of the North West Lion Working Group that were tasked with coordinating the systematic implementation of the management plan.

NW Human-lion Conflict Management PlanNW Human-lion Conflict Management Plan

The North West Human-lion Conflict Management Plan was officially launched by the Hon. Tommy Nambahu, Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism during a media event in Windhoek on 22 Sep 2017.

Tommy Nambahu, Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism during a media event in Windhoek on 22 Sep 2017

​An important development that came out of this process was that of collaboration. In an optimistic and positive spirit all the relevant stakeholders were in agreement that working together was essential to the process of addressing human-lion conflict in the region. A total of 18 key stakeholders, including Government Ministries, regional authorities, conservancy bodies and conservation NGOs, were identified that are participating in this initiative. A list of priority actions was identified and the process of implementing the North West Human-lion Conflict Management Plan was initiated.

A Rapid Response Team was established with the acquisition of an equipped vehicle and the appointment of Cliff Tjikundi. The team was strengthened by the inclusion of Rodney Tjavara from Tomakas, and they set off to discuss the implementation of the North West Human-lion Conflict Management Plan with the relevant conservancies, Traditional Authorities and Regional Councillors. In addition, progress was made with the development of "early-warning" systems and the erecting of suitable lion-proof corrals. A total of seven satellite and two GPS radio collars were fitted to two adult male lions and five lionesses. The Rapid Response Team, IRDNC and Namibia Nature Foundation worked with the Purros, Sesfontein, Anabeb and Tsiseb Conservancies to appoint "Lion Rangers" for each conservancy.

Read more about the Lion Rangers

Cliff Tjikundi - Rapid Response Team Rodney Tjavara - Rapid Response TeamLion Rangers - logo
 

Early-warning and monitoring systems

The first Logger Early-warning systems was erected at Driefontein in the Torra Conservancy. Driefontein, in accordance to the NW Human-lion Conflict Management Plan, was identified as one of the conflict “hot-spots” where problems with lions have occurred repeatedly over the past 20 years. Cliff Tjikundi, of the Rapid Response Team, and several Lion Rangers assisted with the erecting and testing of the system. They also received training on the working mechanisms and maintenance of the Earl-warning system. The Minister of the Environment & Toursim will officially unveil the structure later this week when Cliff and the Lion Rangers will present a demonstration of the working mechanisms.

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In addition to the Logger Early-warning system at Driefontein, a “Satellite Logger Unit” was erected along the Uniab River. This unit will monitor lion movements, download GPS data stored on lion collars, and relay the information via satellite to the Central Server. A large area between the Hunkap and Huab Rivers were covered in search of lions in order to fit the newly modified radio collars that are compatible with the Logger and Early-warning units. The extensive rains, however, has complicated the field work as ungulate species (e.g. gemsbok, springbok & zebra) have dispersed in search of green grass.


An adult lioness was captured in the upper reaches of the Koigab River and fitted with a new Logger collar that will communicate with the Early-warning system erected at Driefontein.

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Testing of Early-warning systems

The first Logger Early-warning systems that was erected at Driefontein in the Torra Conservancy on 23 Apr 2018 was tested thoroughly. The unit responded well to an Early-warning radio collar that was mounted on the Rapid-response team vehicle of Cliff Tjikundi and provided accurate early-warning alerts. An initial snag with the satellite modem communications between the Driefontein Early-warning unit and the central server was corrected. Two lions fitted with Early-warning collars moved along the Springbok River towards Driefontein on 30 Apr 2018, but not close enough to trigger the Logger Early-warning unit. These movements, however, provided an opportunity to test the secondary Early-warning system that relies on the daily movements of lions fitted with satellite collars. Torra Conservancy and the Driefontein residents were informed of the lion movements and they responded by moving their livestock away from the area.

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Purros Lion Problem

For several weeks an adult male lion has been reported moving along the Gomatum River to Purros where livestock losses occurred (blue squares: see map below). The situation was monitored by Cliff Tjikundi of the Rapid-response team and several Lion Rangers as it escalated into a broader Human-lion conflict problem that extended to the Khumib River. The Lion Rangers and John Heidinger were joined on 14 May and an extensive search was launched along the upper Hoaruseb River to locate the lion.

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After three nights of tracking the male lion was located in the Khumib River close to the border of the Skeleton Coast Park.

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With permission from the Ministry of Environment & Tourism, the lion was immobilised, fitted with a satellite radio collar and translocated to Sarusas spring 35km further downriver (see map below).

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The lion remained close to Sarusas spring for two days (red circles: see map) and then moved eastwards along the course of the Khumib River. The lion then moved northwards and crossed over to the Sechumib River towards Orupembe.

 

Purros Lion Problem

The young adult male lion that caused problems around Purros at the end of May 2018 was followed to the Khumib River where it was immobilised, fitted with a satellite radio collar and, with permission from the Ministry of Environment & Tourism, translocated to Sarusas spring 35km further downriver (see map below).

After recovering from the anaesthetics the lion moved eastwards along the course of the Khumib River (red circles: see map) before crossing over to the Sechumib River towards Orupembe. The male spent several days near Orupembe and then continued moving northwards, crossing the Nadas, Munutum and Engo Rivers, and reached the bottom of the Hartmann’s Valley. These movement patterns are similar to those of other dispersing male lions, such as the Sechumib Nomads in 2005, Xpl-29 in 2007 and Xpl-68 “The Terrace Male” in 2013.

Early-warning and monitoring systems

The process of implementing the NW Human-lion Conflict Management Plan continues. A large area of the Hoanib River, including the major tributaries and Elephant Song was covered in search of the resident lions. Due to the exceptional rainfall several weeks ago there are few animals utilising the dry riverbeds and, as a result, the lions have been difficult to locate. A lioness of the Hoanib Pride gave birth to a litter of cubs near the new lodge of Natural Selection. An adult male lion was tracked for 32km but moved into an inaccessible area east of Elephant Song before he could be immobilised. An Early-warning collar was fitted to a lioness that occasionally venture close to Sesfontein and kill livestock.

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Purros Lion Problem

The young adult male lion that caused problems around Purros at the end of May 2018 and translocated to Sarusas spring has continued to explore the northwest corner of Namibia (see map).

After spending several days near Orupembe where livestock losses were reported, the lion continued moving northwards and entered the dune-sea to the west of the Hartmann’s Valley. The lion then turned back and is currently heading southwards towards Orupembe.

Early-warning and monitoring systems

The process of implementing the NW Human-lion Conflict Management Plan continues. Another adult lioness was immobilised and fitted with a satellite collar. Luuk Eikelboom of CARE, who is currently running the Desert Lion website and providing technical support to the Project, attended the occasion.

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