P.O. BOX 118 – KAMANJAB – NAMIBIA – AFRICA
Mobile: + 264 81 354 8538
Supporting Carnivore Conservation, Communities and Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation through Education
The AFRICAT FOUNDATION is a registered, Namibian-based, non-profit organization (# T48/93), dedicated to the protection and conservation of Namibian’s Large Carnivores in their natural habitat. AfriCat actively supports the long term survival of Namibia’s large carnivores through Environmental Education, Research, Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation and Community Support programmes.
AfriCat North, based along Etosha’s south-western boundary, strives to mitigate Human-Wildlife Conflict on farmland especially with regards to the lion (Panthera leo), by educating the youth, encouraging adapted livestock management and conducting essential research & monitoring of wild lion populations.
AfriCat North has, for many years, been directly involved with Human Wildlife Conflict (HWC) incidents on communal & free-hold farmland adjacent to the Etosha National Park (ENP), where conflict situations arise when lions leave the confines of protected areas and kill livestock. In most cases, farmers have no alternative but to destroy these stock raiders. Despite the importance of predators within ecosystems as well as their economic value for tourism, a large number of lions are killed annually.
The AfriCat community programmes directly support and up-lift the communal farming communities along the western, north-western and northern borders of the Etosha National Park. By adapting their livestock management and protection methods, both communal and free-hold farming communities will lose less livestock and, with continued support and education, these communities will destroy fewer lions. AfriCat strives to enable local communities to support themselves without endangering the valuable lion population.
Youth groups and farming communities of the Kunene, as well as other Regions, are encouraged to participate in AfriCat’s Environmental Education Programmes, ultimately establishing a deep-seated awareness of environmental issues, specifically those involving the lion (Panthera leo). Through Environmental Education, the Namibian youth as well as farmers and community leaders come to understand and appreciate the value of the wilderness and the wildlife within it.
Research and Monitoring - In order to manage Human Wildlife Conflict (the farmer-lion conflict) effectively and efficiently, it is crucial to have adequate information. AfriCat North is involved in programmes which will establish population density and activity patterns.
WHY PROTECT THE NAMIBIAN LION ?
In April 1996, the lion in Namibia was declared a protected species.
- The most recent estimates indicate the total population at 562-894 lions (The Namibian Carnivore Atlas - Dr. P. Stander 2004).
- The lion population in the Etosha National Park is estimated at approximately 300 - 350 adults and sub-adults (Namibia Predator Research Programme - May 2001).
- Fee-living (wild) lions, together with rhino and elephant, are major tourist attractions, therefore of great economic importance, indirectly attracting a great number of foreigners to Namibia.
- The Kunene Region (formerly Damaraland + Kaokoveld), Etosha National Park, Bushmanland and west + east Caprivi are the only areas where free-living lion populations are still to be found.
- The lion is fast losing its ideal habitat due to human encroachment and increased farming activities.
- The importance of lions in a natural ecosystem should be recognised and conservation efforts prioritised.
- It is believed that the lion populations of the Etosha National Park and Kunene Region are FIV-free (Feline Immuno-deficiency Virus / Feline Aids). The Etosha lion population is assumed to be one of only a few FIV-free (Feline Immuno-deficiency Virus) populations in Africa. Little is known of the effects of this disease on lions, but it could have a detrimental effect on the entire African lion population.
This FIV-free status makes the Etosha lion population an extremely important founder population source. No traces of the Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) or Bovine Tuberculosis (BTB) have been detected in either the Kunene or Etosha populations, adding to their value for lion conservation, globally.
Programmes 2010 / 11 . . . and beyond.
As of April 2010, Afri-Leo’s Programmes will continue & expand under the AfriCat North banner
- Improved Livestock Protection: Kraals up-graded on Marienhoehe farm, along western boundary of ENP (Khoa di //Hoas Conservancy, Kunene Reg.) and Nekorro Kraal, along northern boundary ENP (Sheeya Shuushona Conservancy); Goats purchased for family Urib on Marienhoehe farm, after lions jumped into kraal at night, killing entire herd of 47 goats, Aug. 2008. (Note: when the incident took place, this kraal had not yet been up-graded)
- Improved Livestock Management: advice and support from AfriCat North team as well as independent Consultant, for approx. 20 families on Marienhoehe and Kamdescha farms
- 5 Kraals have been earmarked for up-grading in the Khoa di //Hoas and Sheya Shuushona Conservancies
- Lion Management Unit, the first of its kind to be developed to mitigate Farmer-Lion Conflict on both communal and free-hold farms, thereby protecting Namibia’s lions and uplifting communities surrounding Etosha NP (Note: more such Units are planned once funding is sourced)
- Etosha Boundary Lion Research & Monitoring Project – to conduct a study of Panthera leo trans-boundary movements along the boundaries of the Etosha National Park
- Environmental Educator and School Bus for AfriCat Northwest Environmental Education Programme
- Elephant Protection Wall on Marienhoehe farm - protecting a water installation from elephant destruction
- Pre-school Programme on Marienhoehe farm – supporting Adolfine Okamaru’s pre-school initiative with food & mattresses for 20 children, tables, chairs and books
- Improved Livestock Management & Protection Programme in the Ehirovipuka Conservancy, along the western Etosha border
- Medium to long-term solutions to the ever-present Human-Wildlife Conflict are imperative to the success of Namibia’s wildlife conservation programmes as well as to poverty reduction amongst a large number of communal farmers.
- Livestock farmers wish to farm efficiently with maximum yield, without regular losses due to predation.
- Conservancies are concerned that the wildlife needed to attract tourists to the community lodges, may be destroyed as a result of conflict with farmers.
- AfriCat’s initiatives will effectively educate communal farmers as to how best to improve their livestock protection methods, thereby minimising predation. With the conflict situations reduced, fewer farmers will insist on the lions being destroyed, thus the Namibian lion population will be better protected.
- The Lion Management Unit(s) will be well-positioned to provide regular and reliable feedback to the AfriCat North Research and Monitoring teams, as well as to the Ministry of Environment & Tourism. This data will not only support research and much-needed information on the lions of Namibia, but also support the development of the Lion Management Policy.
- With the Lion Conservation Strategy draft proposal awaiting approval, the development of the Lion Management Policy will soon follow.
- The long term survival of the Namibian lion depends on sound management of our valuable lion population, but workable solutions to the Human-Wildlife Conflict, specifically the farmer-lion conflict, should first be in place.