THE discovery of four dead lions in the bushes near Nuwepos led to the arrest of three poachers after their tracks were followed to a house quite distance away and exposed the illegal hunting activities of protected game species in the policing area of Sesfontein.
According to Deputy Commissioner Edwin Kanguatjivi, spokesperson of the Namibian Police, the three poachers were charged with the hunting of special protected game, administering of poison, possession of controlled wildlife products and defeating the course of justice.
“Officers followed footprints leading from the scene where the dead lions were found to the house where the remains of a zebra and an Oryx that were killed by the perpetrators to use as bait for the predators, were discovered. The meat was hidden at the house and shoes that matched the footprints were also found in the house.”
According to Deputy Commissioner Kanguatjivi the poachers took the law into their own hands by killing three males and one female lion by putting a poisonous substance in the meat and placing it in the bushes as bait.
Izak Smit from the Desert Lions Relations Aid, said information about the poisoning of the four desert adapted lions is very sketchy at this stage but he said that the lions are most probably from the lesser known prides that keeps to the area of Etendeka or the upper Barab River.
“At this stage we cannot say if the poisoned lions were collared and monitored to avoid human wildlife conflict in the area of the Anabeb Conservancy near Nuwepos,” he said.
Smit was of the opinion that the animals were poisoned by farmers who moved into the Anabeb Conservancy area as an emergency measure to ensure grazing for their livestock.
He said farmers looking for emergency grazing does not have any kraals for their animals and that the livestock were moving around freely at night while only guarded by herders.
Smit said the farmers have been complaining about livestock losses for several weeks.
“At this stage it is difficult to keep the lions in that area away from livestock because the farmers have not constructed any kraals to keep their animals safe at night,” he said.
In the aftermath of the lion poisoning incident, Romeo Muyanda, spokesperson of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, confirmed that three people were arrested on Sunday.
“This is a very unfortunate incident and the Ministry strongly condemns it. We reiterate our call that farmers and members of the public must refrain from taking the law into their own hands,” he said.
Muyanda said investigations in the matter will continue and added that it is the Ministry’s hope that the law will take its course.
Deputy Commissioner Kanguatjivi indicated that the three men accused of poaching and poisoning the lions are set to appear in the Opuwo Magistrate’s Court on charges of hunting of special protected game, administering of poison, possession of controlled wildlife products and defeating the course of justice killing protected and endangered wildlife species later today.