For many years AfriCat North has been directly involved with human-wildlife conflict incidents on communal and commercial farmland adjacent to the Etosha National Park.
The AfriCat Community Support Programme directly supports and uplifts the communal farming communities along the western, north-western and northern borders of the Etosha National Park. Incidents of lion-related conflict along the Etosha borders, as well as in some neighbouring communal conservancies, are frequent. By improving on their livestock protection methods, both communal and commercial farming communities will lose less livestock and, with continued support and education, these communities will destroy fewer lions.
AfriCat North’s mission is the protection and conservation of wild or free-ranging lion populations in Namibia and throughout the rest of Africa, ultimately ensuring the survival of the species, Panthera leo. AfriCat North strives to mitigate human-wildlife conflict thereby reducing poverty, to keep lions in their natural habitat, to prevent the exploitation and inhumane treatment of lions and to ensure that captive populations are well cared for.
WHY PROTECT THE NAMIBIAN LION ?
In April 1996, the lion in Namibia was declared a protected species. The most recent estimates indicate a total population of approx. 690 – 1000 adult and sub-adult lions (Namibian Carnivore Atlas – May 2001/2002). The lion population in the Etosha National Park is estimated at approximately 300 – 350 adults and sub-adults (Namibia Predator Research Programme – May 2001).
Free-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.