TWO lions said to be part of the Ugab desert pride slaughtered 172 small livestock at the Brandberg White Lady Lodge on Monday.
The latest slaughter comes only a few months after another pride killed about 250 small livestock on communal farms in the Kunene region.
Lodge manager Sarah Roos said the lions - a male and female - had 'inspected' the kraal where the livestock had been kept since the weekend, as lion tracks were observed around the enclosure that was supposed to be lion-proof.
"On Monday, they managed to find a gap and force their way in, doing serious damage. Not all the sheep were killed; some were maimed, and had to be put down. The lions just fed on one inside the kraal," Roos said.
There are over 600 sheep kept at the lodge, but the kraal is some distance from the tourist area, so no one heard anything. It was only the next morning that the massacre was discovered.
According to Roos, the lions only started roaming near the lodge last September. "It is the first time in the 17 years that the lodge has existed that lions have come so close," she said.
Flip Stander of the Desert Lion Conservation Project and lodge owner Naude de Jager tracked the lions, and by Tuesday evening, the male called 'Nkosi' was located, darted and collared for conservation purposes. Also on Tuesday, Mini-stry of Environment and tourism spokesperson, Romeo Muyunda issued a statement confirming the incident, and acknowledging that the lions had established themselves in the Brandberg area over the years, coming from the Ugab River system.
"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," he said.
Muyunda stated that despite the ministry's efforts to manage human-wildlife conflict with the objective of decreasing such incidents to acceptable levels, it appears that human-lion conflict incidents were on the rise.
He emphasised that the latest incident should not be linked to the lions that the ministry translocated to the Erongo Mountain Rhino Sanctuary.
"Those lions are still in the Erongo Mountains, and the capturing operation is currently underway," he said.
The lions in the Erongo Mountain Rhino Sanctuary were involved in the livestock slaughter on communal farms in Kunene last year. They are being relocated from the sanctuary to the Etosha National Park after some Omaruru area farmers objected to their presence in the area, citing safety concerns.