THE environment ministry paid out N$257 500 in compensation to farmers who lost livestock to lions this year in the Kavango East, Kavango West and Zambezi regions.
Environment spokesperson Romeo Muyunda told The Namibian yesterday that the compensation is for 111 livestock killed between January and September.
He said the highest amount of N$84 000 is for September when 28 livestock were killed; N$60 000 in July for 20 livestock; and N$48 000 in August for 16 livestock. Muyunda explained that the money was paid through the conservancies, who will then disburse it to individual farmers.
Raimond Matiti, a farmer from the Ihaha village in the Kabbe South constituency of the Zambezi region, told The Namibian yesterday that he lost six head of cattle this year alone. Matiti added that over the past years, the number of lions has increased, and are fiercely making attempts to attack both humans and livestock.
On Monday this week, a pride of 12 lions was spotted attempting to attack cattle, but luckily the herder scared them away, even though they tried to attack him.
"However, he called for help, and neighbours came out shooting off their guns, and the animals ran off. We are afraid to go and look after our cattle even during the day when they graze because at any moment, one might be attacked by a lion," Matiti stressed.
He said since the area is close to the Chobe National Park, it was a hots pot for the big cats to attack their livestock, and he has lost about six cattle this year.
"It has been four months since the lions killed my cattle, but I am still waiting for compensation. This process is taking too long. The money we are getting now is still not enough to replace the livestock we lost". "These lions are disturbing our livelihood, as we are farmers depending on our livestock to get an income. The government should even assist us farmers with diamond wire mesh to build, as maybe that way, we can keep away these lions," he continued.
Another affected farmer, Timothy Mayanga from the Ihaha village, told The Namibian that in November, he shot and killed one lion which attempted to attack his cattle.
"I have lost two [heads of] cattle this year, and could not take it anymore, so I shot one lion last month. The situation is so severe that we are now afraid to let our cattle graze freely because there are lions everywhere. These lions are now so bold that they attack the animals during the day also," he lamented.
Commenting on Mayanga and Matiti's cases, Muyunda said all farmers who put in their claims qualify to be compensated because the farmer might have been able to avoid their livestock being attacked by the lion.
"After an incident is reported, we send our officials or officials from the conservancies to inspect and based on that, the officials will recommend if we will pay or not. So when we do not pay it means that the farmer has been negligent in avoiding such a situation or there is no evidence that their livestock were attacked by a lion. The other error is that farmers do not always report such incidents on time," he said.
Muyunda further said that all payments are done through the conservancies or to the farmers directly.