Thanks to the generous GlobalGiving donation to the Kevin Richardson Foundation, during August – November 2021, we were able to see to crucial operations within our organisation. This covered the replacement of the GPS-Satellite collar of the Okavariona male lion, Npl-27. The donation also contributed towards four Lion Guard Salaries for four months.
1. Lion Collaring
This is an intricate procedure with many costs attached, such as the financing of the collar itself, satellite fees for 18 months, and transport of the collar, as well as the costs of the collaring activity, which involves preparation, fuel, staff food, community support, veterinary costs, drugs, and blood work.
Npl-27, the lion, was first collared in October 2019. His GPS-Satellite battery unit stopped working in February 2021. As the terrain is treacherous, it was a challenge to locate him without a GPS-fix, but his VHF telemetry remains functional, giving us an indication of his location. Our initial attempt at replacing the collar was thwarted by the fact that he was with a female in oestrus, and no amount of coaxing would allow us get close enough to immobilize him! We returned three weeks later, where we found him with his pride of three females and two sub-adults. During this trip we successfully fitted a new GPOS-Satellite collar. His body score was satisfactory for a pride-male in this arid habitat, despite the dwindling prey base due to the 9-year-long drought. The rest of the pride were also in satisfactory condition. We estimated his body mass at approx.195 kg. Npl-27 is in his prime at approx. 6-7 years of age.
2.Lion Guard Wages:
2.1. Lazarus Hoxobeb: The most senior Lion Guard, Lazarus, is a member of the #Khoa di //Hoas Conservancy and farms on communal land with his wife, Odilie, along the southern boundary of the Hobatere Concession, a wildlife protected area managed as part of the Etosha National Park. He joined the Namibian Lion Trust in December 2019, but also represents the /Gaio Daman Traditional Authority at Conservancy level. “One of my dreams was to work with lions, and now I actively try to prevent Human-Wildlife Conflict and to protect these vulnerable Big Cats”.
2.2. Dorien Kharuxas: ‘I graduated from high school in December 2018, two years later I was employed by the Namibian Lion Trust as Office Administrator. My work has become my passion as I now know how important it is to monitor lion movement and to support our Lion Guards in the field with information and the daily programme – trying to prevent conflict by warning farmers to protect their livestock, is my most valuable role. As a young mother of our beautiful daughter, Zinorida, I am lucky to have a loving family where my mother takes care of her and my brother’s daughter, Rasia. I care about their future and would like to share what I have learned with my community so that we may learn to live closer to nature’.
2.3. Hoveka Undari: “Every day I speak to my family to conserve the Lion because it is very important for our future generations to see and know about the Lion, so that they may not just hear or read about them one day in old books, like we do about Dinosaurs. I am a family-man, married to Jaturapi for 10 years and we have 5 children. The Lion is very important in our area, the Omatendeka Conservancy. I am a committee member and am proud to be able to serve my community in important conservation decisions”.
2.4. Katirire (Titus) Turitjo farms on communal land close to the Etosha National Park western border, where he and his family have lost livestock to predators that leave the confines of the Park. “I feel good about my job as a Lion Guard because it gives me more knowledge on how to farm, protect my livestock and how to educate my Community”. Titus patrols his vast area on horseback, often spending nights out in the field, where lion and spotted hyaena, especially, roam opportunistically in search of easy prey.
Our Lion Guards, ‘Keepers of the Wilderness’, are dedicated to protecting the lion as well as mitigating farmer-lion conflict in Namibia’s north-west (Kunene Region). These highly respected community members are elected by their Conservancies, essentially carrying the message of Conservation from the highest authorities to the farmer.
Lion Guards & GPS-Satellite collars keep lions alive and farmers - with their livestock - safe. The long hours spent in the field and their dedicated mitigation of the farmer-predator conflict, is slowly but surely showing results: for those farmers who have adopted the Livestock Protection Programme, reports show a notable reduction in livestock loss due to lion & spotted hyaena predation, ultimately reducing the retaliatory persecution of lions.
Farmers who leave their stock in the field at night and allow their animals to graze inside of Wildlife Protected Areas, continue to suffer losses.
The work of a Lion Guard is never done: a change of heart & mind-set, attitudes and behaviour, especially ‘modernizing’ age-old farming practices, takes time, determination and steadfastness... but will bring us all one step closer to co-existence between man and lion.
Cultivating greater tolerance and appreciation of Namibia’s wildlife amongst the younger generation will determine what world we leave behind for the next generation, and what that generation we leave behind for the world...
We thank GlobalGiving & the Kevin Richardson Foundation for their tireless devotion to all things ‘wild’ – their enthusiastic support of Namibian Lion Trust keeps us ‘out there’, doing what we do best.
Yours in Conservation
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