Lion hunters shot

Attempted murder cases opened following marauding lioness hunt

25 March 2019 | Crime

The Oshana police have opened attempted murder cases after Amalia Sheya, a 51-year-old environment ministry employee, and Festus Fredricks, a 29-year-old cattle herder, were shot during a lion hunt by police, Namibian Defence Force (NDF) and nature conservation officials at Uulungawakolondo on Saturday.

The hunt followed an attack by a lioness on 49-year-old cattle herder Elia Usiku on Saturday morning near the NDF base at Uulungawakolondo.

He was rushed to the Onandjokwe Lutheran Hospital for treatment, before being transferred to the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital together with the shooting victims.

A source told Namibian Sun that Usiku had sustained serious injuries, including a broken arm.

According to Shipanga Andreas, at around 09:00, while he was driving to his cattle post, he found Usiku following his cattle to a water point.

He said Usiku was bleeding heavily and after he told them what happened, they took him to Onandjokwe hospital.

“He told us that the lioness just emerged from nowhere and attacked him. He was seriously injured on the left arm and had several tooth marks throughout his body. After we took him to the hospital, we also notified the police,” Andreas said.

According to cattle post owner, Jesaya Angula, they were not aware that there were lions in the area, as he spends most of the time at the post.

“We were at the scene for an inspection and it shows that the lion ran for about 200 metres before it attacked him (Usiku). He first hit it with a stick, which later broke. He said that it was the cattle that came to save him,” Angula said.

Oshana police spokesperson, Warrant Officer Frieda Ashiyana, confirmed that after the attack was reported, a hunting party was sent out.

“On Saturday at around 10:00, a hunting party consisting of three police officers, three soldiers and two members of the ministry of environment, all armed with rifles, went in search of a lion, which reportedly attacked and injured a member of the public earlier in the morning.

“They were all in a Toyota Land Cruiser that belongs to the environment ministry, accompanied by Fredricks, a cattle herder who was giving them directions to where the lion was spotted,” Ashiyana said.

“Upon finding the lion, it aggressively came running towards their vehicle, running around it and almost climbing onto it. This prompted the police officers and soldiers to start shooting at the lion, and in that process Sheya got shot and seriously injured on the right jaw, while Fredricks got shot and seriously injured on the left shoulder. They are both at the Oshakati Intermediate Hospital.”

Over 8 000 incidents

It was reported in January that a total of 8 067 human-wildlife conflict incidents were recorded in Namibia's conservancies during 2017.

These were recorded in 71 of the country's 83 conservancies and there are indications that the figure might be and underestimation of the situation on the ground.

Human-wildlife conflict has more than doubled since 2004, when a total of 2 936 incidents were recorded in only 31 conservancies.

In 2016 the figure stood at 6 331 incidents in 69 conservancies.

This information was contained in the 2017 State of Community Conservation in Namibia report.

In 2017 there were on average of 106 general attacks and 0.2 on people, per conservancy.

There were an average of 91.1 livestock attacks and 13.1 incidents of crop damage, per conservancy, in 2017.

In 2014, when 82 conservancies held audits, there were 7 774 incidents reported. This was the only year that more than 80 conservancies reported human-wildlife conflict incidents.

However, the highest number of incidents were reported were 9 228 in 2013, when 79 conservancies held audits.

The report indicated that in the Zambezi Region, animals that caused the most conflict in 2017 were elephants, with 380 incidents recorded, while 200 conflict incidents were caused by crocodiles and 180 by hyenas.

In the Erongo and Kunene Regions about 700 conflict incidents were recorded involving hyenas, 590 involving cheetah and 400 involving elephants.

The report said there were about 160 conflict incidents involving lions in the Kunene and Erongo regions, with 8% of these lions being killed.

ILENI NANDJATO