16 May 2017

Namibia: Farmers Vow to Continue Killing Marauding Lions

ANDREAS Ndakukamo, the Omusati farmer and businessman who lost 16 cattle to lions since last month, said until the lions have returned to the Etosha National Park, they would be pursued and killed.

Ndakukamo, who is just one of the affected area farmers of Omutambowomawe in the Otamanzi constituency of the Omusati region, was approached about the latest incident of a lion killed at Omutambowomawe last Friday.

The environment ministry offers farmers an off-set fee of N$1 500 per head of cattle killed by a predator.

"We will kill them. We will protect our cattle, and no longer wait for the ministry to come," an agitated Ndakukamo said.

He had lost 12 head of cattle by the end of last month, and another four last week to the lions.

The lions, believed to have strayed from the Etosha National Park, the boundary of which is a mere 7km north-west of Omutambowomawe, a communal grazing area in the Ongandjera communal area, were initially a pack of six, of which two were shot on 24 April.

The other four escaped, and have been wreaking havoc in the area.

On Friday, prior to a large male being killed, the four lions killed 15 cattle, bringing the total number of cattle killed since last month to 27.

Apart from the four cattle which Ndakukamo lost last week, three other animals belonging to Ongandjera King Johannes Mupiya were also killed, while the other eight belonged to other area farmers.

"I always maintain that cattle are expensive and hard to look after. We have already lost cattle to the drought, and now the cats are killing our cattle again. We will not rest until they are all dead," Ndakukamo stressed.

He also rejected government's N$1 500 off-set amount.

"Where have you seen cattle going for N$1 500? I cannot accept that nonsense. They [ministry] better take that [N$1 500] and go buy cattle to come and give us.

"We do not know where to get cattle for that amount," he said, adding that if an animal is slaughtered, the meat could fetch six times that amount.

Another farmer in the Omutambowomawe area, who has not lost cattle to the lions because his farm is surrounded by other farms, agreed with Ndakukamo.

This farmer, who declined to be named, said that apart from the cattle being killed, the lions also posed a danger to people in the area.

"They will now become aggressive after losing members of their pride. Mark my words, it will not be long before you will hear of a person killed or maimed by a lion in the area," he said.

Human-wildlife conflict has intensified across the northern regions lately. Elephants destroyed mahangu crops last month at the Onamatanga village, and at the Amaupa village near Omakange.

Meanwhile, The Namibian understands that another herd of old elephant bulls, believed to have come from Angola, are terrorising Ohangwena farmers since last week. The elephants are allegedly eating crops at villages bordering Angola, between Okongo and Eenhana.

A source has also indicated that three lions have escaped from the Oshikoto side of Etosha, and are roaming near Oshivelo. No reports of cattle killed have been received so far.

Speaking on NBC TV recently, environment minister Pohamba Shifeta said the ministry was doing all it could to control wildlife, especially lions.

He stated that lions stray from Etosha during mating season.

He added that weaker male lions escape from the park with their female companions to avoid losing them to powerful males.

"When they come out of the park, to protect their females, it is when they start troubling people."

Shifeta pointed out that the ministry was still to fence off about 824km of the park with an elephant-proof fence to secure the whole park, an exercise he said was "expensive and will take time".

He also said government did not compensate for the damage caused by wild animals.

"What the ministry give is an off-set to farmers," he stated, adding that the ministry was still drafting a compensation policy.

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