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Harnas lions retained by owners

Harnas lions retained by owners

Staff Reporter


ULA and Elsa, the two lionesses that the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) intended to confiscate will remain at the Harnas Foundation Trust where they were born.


The decision was handed down by the Windhoek High Court after a short court battle between the MEFT and Harnas.


On 14 February 2022, the Ministry informed Harnas it will confiscate Ula and Elsa on 17 February 2022.


HAPPINESS: Ula and Elsa remain at Harnas. Photo: Contributed


Harnas submitted applications to the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Tourism on 19 February 2021 for the two lionesses to be kept at Harnas. The Minister has not yet decided on the applications.


In the interim, MEFT officials advised the Minister, to which he agreed, to confiscate and relocate the lionesses to Okapuka Ranch, despite the pending applications.


The decision to confiscate the lionesses was already made in September 2021 but deliberately concealed from Harnas until 14 February 2022, when Harnas was informed of the impending confiscation on 17 February 2022.


In an attempt to prohibit the confiscation of two of Harnas’ most beloved lions, Harnas launched an urgent application against the Minister on 16 February 2022, in terms of which they approached the High Court in Windhoek on an urgent basis on 17 February 2022.


The application, seeking interdictory relief against the Minister, was enrolled before Judge Orben Sibeya.


Before the matter was called, the parties reached an agreement on the basis that the MEFT conceded to the interdictory relief sought by Harnas and the MEFT was subsequently ordered not to remove the lionesses from Harnas.


During the proceedings, Judge Sibeya expressed the view that he considered the matter as one of extreme urgency.


He further stated that the conduct of the Minister in this matter was intolerable.


Specifically the fact that the decision by the Minister to confiscate the lionesses was taken in September 2021, yet Harnas was only informed of the decision five months later, on three days’ notice, cannot be accepted as fair administrative procedure.


Judge Sibeya underscored that the welfare of the animals is foremost in the Court’s mind in this matter.


He stated that the physical and psychological stress and trauma that would be caused to the animals by the confiscation is not a matter that the Court will take lightly.


The Harnas Foundation Trust expressed dismayed at the attempted abuse of power by individuals within MEFT.


“Malfeasance places animal welfare and conservation organizations at odds with government. Ultimately this leads to the waste of taxpayer money as a result of frivolous litigation. Harnas thanks its attorneys, Cronjé Inc., for their assistance herein,” the Foundation stated.


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