Kunene lion assessment will show population

14 June 2021 | Environment

ELLANIE SMIT

WINDHOEK

The environment ministry has completed a ground and aerial assessment of the state of the desert-adapted lion population in the Kunene Region.

The assessment established the status and condition of the desert-adapted lion population, the distribution and abundance of prey animals and livestock, and the recent rainfall patterns.

Spokesperson of the ministry Romeo Muyunda told Namibian Sun that the report was being compiled and finalised before the findings would be made public.

The assessment came after the ministry announced that four desert-adapted lions from the Torra Conservancy in the Kunene Region would be translocated to the N/a'an ku sê Wildlife Sanctuary east of Windhoek.

Critical

The emaciated lions were in a critical condition and in need of urgent attention.

The intervention by the ministry came after another emaciated lioness had been put down. At the time, desert-adapted lions in Namibia's north-west were under threat because of the famine in the region.

Below-average rainfall during recent years and unmanaged grazing by cattle belonging to communal farmers have resulted in hyper-arid conditions in the region.

Muyunda said that three of the lions were translocated to N/a'an ku sê and so far the ministry had not received any further reports of lions in this type of condition or lion-human conflict in the area.

“The ministry spearheaded an aerial survey of the distribution and abundance of prey animals, and the recent rainfall patterns in the Northwest of Namibia. Based out of Palmwag, the ministry used their helicopter to conduct the survey and approximately 10 flying hours were used to survey an area of roughly 18 000 square kilometres between the Ugab and Hoaruseb rivers,” according to the organisation Desert Lion Conservation, headed by Philip Stander.

The survey provided valuable information on the spread and extent of rainfall as well as concentrations of wildlife. On the ground several vehicle-based teams covered the area locating groups of lions to assess group composition and physical condition, it added.

This was a collaborative effort between the ministry, Desert Lion Conservation, Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation and the Lion Rangers, with support from the Tourism Supporting Conservation (TOSCO).

[email protected]

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