The issue of human-lion conflict is one of the biggest killers of lions in Africa today. It is a seemingly unending battle to establish an harmonious existence between us and them, and sadly, where Namibia’s unique desert lions live, this battle has resulted in the tragic death of one of the most significant male lions of the Skeleton Coast.
Rosh, a name given to identify him, was collared by Dr Flip Stander and Desert Lion Conservation in 2010, and has since been monitored traversing through Damaraland and the Skeleton Coast. His GPS collar was attached in order to help Flip keep track of him, study his movements, obtain biometric data, and to assist in keeping him away from the Himba villages and coming into conflict with the people.
Devastating news was reported by Lion Ranger Bertus Tjipombo recently, confirming fears that this beautiful 10-year-old desert-adapted male lion had been shot.
Rosh belonged to an exceptional population of lions that has teetered on the brink of survival and due to the unfailing efforts of Desert Lion Conservation and its sponsors, has defied extinction and grown to a population of about 200 individuals. The male lions in this population are crucial to the genetic stability and growth of the prides of the Skeleton Coast and as it is, there are still too few males. The desert lions suffer a massive blow in an incident like this with the loss of such an iconic male.
As reported by Bertus to TOSCO Chairman, Felix Vallat, Rosh was shot by Puros farmers in retaliation after the lion killed a cow. There is an overwhelming feeling of sadness surrounding the death of this lion, as it emphasises the distance we still need to go to overcome the issue of human-lion conflict.
We had a terrible incident where we discovered that Rosh was shot to death.
Rosh was born in September 2004 at Uniab river and then move to Hoanib river where he spent time with the lionesses of the Floodplain and Okongue prides.
Mostly, Rosh covered the area around Gommatom river, Hoaruseb river, Oruhito, Giribes Plains, Kanamub and Okongue area.
During his time in the Puros area, Rosh has killed in total about 6 cattle in the area.
We, as Puros conservancy Lion Rangers, are unhappy about the death of Rosh. We heard that Rosh killed 1 cow and the farmer’s horse between Puros and Tomakas, which resulted in his death.
The farmer found the lion eating the cow on the main road from Tomakas to Puros and this is how we found out. Then he proceeded further north.
We had an effort to go monitor the lion before his death, but we didn’t have any transport available to go rescue the lion. We went to Okahirongo for help, but unfortunately they had no cars available as they have only one car used by the clients.
After a few hours we heard that Rosh was shot to death by the farmers. More than half of the Puros community and members of the conservancy are feeling unhappy because of killing that lion. But the elders only think about cattle to survive, they don’t see things like young generations.
We kept the lion and collar safely locked in conservancy office. MET (Namibia Ministry of Environment and Tourism) came from Opuwo to take the skull and the collar, as Flip did not arrive.
The challenge that we are facing at the moment is lack of support in conservation, like uniforms for recognition and especially when it come to lion monitoring, we don’t have transport to monitor their movement.
Puros Lion Rangers
Sun Safaris is an avid supporter of TOSCO and Desert Lion Conservation and contributes in the form of donations to aid their work in conserving these lions. If you would like to assist in donating funds for Lion Rangers’ uniforms or equipment, please contact TOSCO: Tourism Supporting Conservation Organisation. Follow the movements of the desert lions on desertlion.info.