Windhoek-The police docket for the investigation into the recent killing of lions by northern business mogul David ‘Kambwa’ Sheehama has been submitted to the Office of the Prosecutor General for a decision.
The Minister of Environment and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta, said the investigation, which was launched last month to determine whether the killing of two lions was legal and the firearms used were licensed, has been finalized.
He said the docket has since been forwarded to the PG’s office that will decide whether to prosecute or not.
Shifeta did not divulge much details of the concluded report from the investigation team, except to say most farmers exaggerated the number of livestock killed by lions. Sheehama last month sparked shockwaves when he, accompanied by other farmers, allegedly killed two lions at his farm.
The lions were part of a pride that had been terrorising Omusati farmers since the beginning of May, according to farmers.
Recently six lions from the Etosha National Park were alleged to have attacked and killed livestock in the bordering Omusati Region. The lions reportedly killed about 10 cattle in Omusati.
Shifeta clarified that all lions killed illegally are being investigated.
This year alone, he revealed, about 10 lions were killed illegally by community members in various parts of Namibia.
He noted that in Omusati six lions were unlawfully gunned down by community members, while two were destroyed by officials of the environment ministry after being declared as problematic animals.
About three were killed through poisoning in Kunene and one was illegally shot dead by community members in Oshana.
In Oshikoto Region, three lions were also destroyed by officials of the ministry after being declared problem animals.
No lions have been killed in the Zambezi, Kavango East and Otjozondjupa regions so far this year in connection with human-wildlife conflict.
Shifeta said that Namibia’s lion population stands at 700 with 430 of these big cats found in Etosha and surrounding commercial famers.
Another 120 are found in Kunene Region and parts of Erongo Region, 50 lions are in the Khaudum National Park and surrounding areas of the Kavango East and Otjozondjupa regions.
About 50 lions are found in Zambezi Region and the rest are found on some other commercial farms.
So far, Shifeta said, no human life has been lost due to a lion attack, although two persons were attacked and sustained serious injuries – one in Sesfontein area and the other in Kunene Region.
Shifeta explained that the carrying capacity of Etosha National Park is about 350 lions – meaning the park is over-carrying 80 big cats.
“Other areas are open systems as the areas are not fenced off and the numbers of lions depend on the available prey. Lions escape from Etosha National Park now and then. They are attracted by livestock that graze along Etosha due to farmers establishing cattle posts or grazing livestock close to the park.”
According to him, the 822-km fence is dilapidated and the government needs to raise half a billion to rehabilitate it to mitigate human-wildlife conflict.
“We need at least N$500 million to fix the entire fence. We tried to make it reasonable. We need N$1 million to N$2 million per kilometre because some areas are mountainous and rocky. It’s costly.”
He said that over the past six years only 112 kilometres of the fence had been upgraded and 710 kilometres remain.
Some of the measures the ministry has put in place to mitigate further conflicts include herding and guarding whereby farmers use a person and dogs to walk with the livestock while they graze.
Another one is the predator-proof kraal to prevent night-time attacks of livestock by predators through strong enclosures.