Archive for the ‘Lions’ Category

Thai Days: Anybody lost 14 white lions? Get in touch and I’ll tell you where they were.

June 11, 2013

Hugh Paxton’s Blog has a number of animals in my house. But enough of mycats, my hedhehogs, my  daughter and her friends.

Let’s move on to a house in Klong Sam District.

This was over populated!

14 white lions. Where the heck did he he get 14 white lions? South Africa. And the lion  owner says he’s got the papers to prove it.

Four otter civets.

One loris.

23 meeerkats! (Yes RSA seems a likely point of origin).

Australians take note – “at least 1,000 sugar gliders”. At least 1,000!

12 peacocks.

13 turtles

six minks

four miniature pigs

17 marmosets

an undisclosed number of other birds

and a bunch of stuffed animals.

This lot were in his house? He must have a larger place than myself.

The police were tipped off by the guy’s neighbours who were fed up with lions roaring, peacocks cawing and “a smell of excrement.”

Sakda Noppasit, secretary to the natural resources and environment Minister, said the suspects registered a company for study purposes but that it was clear the their company has “nothing to do with research or study”.

The cost of importing a white lion? 200,000 Baht.

Come on South Africa! Crack down on the export end! Otherwise Asia will bleed you dry!








Brigitte’s Pick: Colors of the Kalahari

November 21, 2012
Taken by the Hannes Lochner, a South African photographer.

He spent nearly 800 days in the Kalahari Desert, Namibia taking these photos.

Leonie’s view: Africana.

September 9, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s Blog thanks Leonie for another contribution. If you know southern Africa this lot won’t be a total surprise!

But if you haven’t visited some will be surprising.



Africa’s Got Talent

Sundowners – another tough end to an African Day!

No Fishing please!

What happened to the Photographer?

Sleeping under the Stars Kalahari Style!

Washing day!

Vaalies – Welcome to Durban!

Bar sign in Franschoek

Beware sign in Sterkspruit – classic!

Africa’s got time!

Released Lion – Trouble with a capital T!

Always a surprise at the Bush Toilet!

News Round-Up: Wildlife Law Enforcement Actions and Relevant News in the Southeast Asian region, March 2012

May 14, 2012

Hugh Paxton’s blog presents the latest round up of wildlife crime in the ASEAN region (March). The usual victims and the usual suspects I’m afraid. Website contacts for each story are provided to help you examine particular issues in greater detail. The rosewood poaching issue has been particularly prominent in South East Asia’s media recently following the shooting death of a prominent and particularly brave Cambodian environmental activist. The illegal rosewood loggers killed him while he was guiding two journalists.

BLOG ED NOTE: These round ups tend to sprawl across the blog obscuring the directory. I’ve tried to restrain them but without success. This can make the blog untidy and a little hard to navigate but the content is important so please bear with me. Thanks!

News Round-Up:
Wildlife Law Enforcement Actions
ASEAN region
March 2012

110kg of rosewood, and a 3kg turtle confiscated by rangers
On February 24, 2012, rangers from the Steung Proat Station confiscated a total of 3 motorbikes, 190 turtle snares, 110kg of rosewood, and a 3kg turtle.

Leopard cat, 2 jungle fowls, White-rumped Shama, and Stripe throated bulbul seized in Kampung Tok Bidor
In March of 2012, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks raided a house in Kampung Tok Bidor and seized 1 leopard cat, 2 jungle fowls, 1 White-rumped Shama, and 1 Stripe throated bulbul, kept in separate cages.

18 pangolins seized in Peninsular Malaysia
On March 17, 2012, authorities from the Perak State Wildlife and National Parks Department in Ipoh and Gerik arrested 2 men and seized 18 pangolins from a vehicle near a protected area in the northern state of Perak in Peninsular Malaysia. The case in being investigated under Section 68 of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010. The pangolins have been released into the wild. –

Total of 1.1 million board feet of illegally cut lumber seized and 85 arrested under the anti-illegal logging campaign in Caraga Region
Anti-illegal logging drive nets 85 arrests, P17-M hot logs in Caraga Region – The government’s anti-illegal logging campaign in Caraga Region caused the arrests of 85 suspected illegal loggers, seizure of 1.1 million board feet of illegally cut lumbers worth about P17 million. that needed 110 ten-wheelers logging trucks to haul and conducted an over-all 159 operations by joint PNP-DENR and Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission (PAOCC) teams. –

Taiwanese arrested with baby chameleon and snakes
Taiwanese arrested with baby chameleon and snakes (February 13 email)

Indonesian arrested with tortoises and turtles worth 300,000.00 THB
On February 14, 2012, an Indonesian was arrested with Sulcata tortoises, radiated tortoises, and turtles with an estimated value of 300,000.00 THB. Suspect to be charged under Fisheries Act, Customs Act, and WARPA.

2 tiger poachers sentenced
On February 19, 2012, 2 Tiger poachers arrested in Thailand in July 2011 were found guilty. One Thai Hmong was given a five-year sentence, while a Vietnamese citizen was given a four-year sentence.\

Seized rare animals worth 200 million THB
On March 8, 2012, a 100-member combined force of officers from the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division and the National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department raided a 100-rai compound in Kaeng Khoi district, Saraburi and found several hundred rare animals worth 200 million THB. Included in the seizures are: 5 tigers, 13 white lions, 3 pumas, 3 kangaroos, 4 flamingos, 2 crowned cranes, 66 marmosets, 2 orangutans, and 2 red pandas. The owner was charged with operating a zoo and possessing wildlife without permission.

2 wildlife dealers arrested by Thai police officers in Pattaya
On March 14, 2012 that Thai police officers, under training in Pattaya, arrested 2 wildlife dealers involved in the sale of slow loris during a practice mission to a local market.

Viet Nam
315 kg of frozen wildlife meat confiscated
On January 10, 2012, authorities in Gia Lai raided a resident’s home and confiscated 315 kg of frozen wildlife meat.

Hanoi EP confiscates 7 leopard cats
From January to February of 2012 during the Chinese New Year, the Hanoi EP confiscated 7 leopard cats (Prionailurus bengalensis) being illegally transported and/or kept in restaurants and other businesses. Suspects involved are awaiting prosecution.

2 Hawksbill sea turtles rescued in Khanh Hoa
On February 7, 2012, Khanh Hoa authorities confiscated 2 Hawksbill sea turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) from a local gas station. The animals were released into the Dam Mon Nature Reserve.

Seized dead tiger confiscated by Quang Ninh EP
On February 14, 2012, Quang Ninh EP confiscated a dead tiger hidden in an ambulance. The tiger was suspected to have originated from Laos to be taken to China.

5 tonnes of frozen pangolins and iguanas seized by Vietnamese police
On March 21, 2012, Vietnamese police seized 5 tonnes of frozen pangolins and iguanas destined for China.

Relevant Wildlife Enforcement News
March 2012

Should we legalize horn trade to save the animals?
A spike in the poaching of elephants and rhinos has become so alarming that experts are debating controversial plans to permit the legalized international trade of ivory and rhino horn. –

Rhino Horns Injected with Poison to Deter Poachers
Conservationists have attempted injecting toxins into rhino horns to thwart poachers in South Africa. Rhino poaching is a big business that has endangered the species as the animals are regularly slaughtered for their horns, which are then used in folk remedies. –

Pangolins: Quietly Being Driven Towards Their Extinction
The pangolin is a scaly anteater found in Southeast Asia and several African countries. These nocturnal mammals are often found burrowing or feeding on ants and termites with their incredibly long sticky tongues (up to sixteen inches in length). Pangolins are known for their vibrant and nearly impenetrable armor-plated scales. When they are threatened, they roll into a ball and use these sharp scales to protect them. This defensive mechanism works very well against most predators, but illegal poaching and trading have been killing off these fascinating creatures at an alarming rate. –

Black ivory – IT IS a bad time to be an elephant, particularly in Africa. Almost 24 tonnes of illegally harvested ivory were seized by investigators in 2011
The largest haul since records began in 1990 and more than twice the amount in 2010. Traffic, a wildlife watchdog, reckons around 2,500 elephants must have died to produce so much ivory. This year could be worse. More than 200 elephants were killed in a single state of Cameroon in the first six weeks of 2012. –

More People, Less Biodiversity? The Complex Connections Between Population Dynamics and Species Loss
This much is clear: As human numbers have grown, the number of species with whom we share the planet has declined dramatically. While it took about 200,000 years for humanity to reach one billion people around 1800, world population has grown sevenfold since then, surpassing seven billion last year. –

Should the location of newly discovered species be hidden?
Discovering a new species can be the defining moment of a biologist’s career, but for some it can also mean exposing rare and vulnerable animals to the dark world of the wildlife pet trade, with catastrophic results. It’s a scientific dilemma that has led some conservationists to question whether it would be better to hide their findings from the world. –

Biggest Crackdown in History on Ivory Traders
Interpol is carrying out the largest anti-elephant ivory poaching operation ever mounted following mass killings in Africa. Wildlife agents in 14 different African countries have been raiding outlets and hunting down traders to crack down on the multi-million pound industry. Operation Worthy, as it is being called, is aimed at stifling the increasing demand in illegal elephant ivory, mostly from Asian countries such as China. –

CITES seeks tougher limits on coral, shark, dolphin trade
UN wildlife trade regulator CITES said Wednesday that tougher limits should be imposed on trade of aquatic species such as corals, dolphins and sturgeons to protect them from extinction. –

Marine Protected Areas Prove to be Vital Aspect of Green Turtle Sustainability
Some sea turtles appear to be reaping the benefits of government designated areas of bodies of water, known as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). A recent study published in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography suggests that the MPAs are playing a key role in the support and nourishment of the Green turtle. –

Illegal logging makes billions for gangs
Report says Illegal logging generates $10-15bn (£7.5-11bn) around the world, according to new analysis from the World Bank. Its report, Justice for Forests, says that most illegal logging operations are run by organised crime, and much of the profit goes to corrupt officials. –

Follow the money to catch the illegal loggers: World Bank
The same follow-the-money approach used to catch drug kingpins and human traffickers could be used to track down the big operators behind large-scale illegal logging, the World Bank said on Tuesday. Around the world, illegal loggers cut down an area of forest the size of a football field every two seconds, generating criminal proceeds of between $10 billion and $15 billion annually, the Bank said in a report.-

Saving elephants by cutting the illegal ivory supply chain
The illegal ivory trade starts with the slaughter of elephants, continues with wildlife traffickers smuggling ivory across international borders and ends with the under-the-counter sale of carvings, signature stamps and trinkets, in marketplaces in Asia and online. –

Not a Normal Killing
Reeking of infection, the elephant stumbled into the Tanzanian camp where Thomas Appleby works as a safari manager. Its back legs festered with gangrene radiating from the open, pungent wounds that the animal had evidently endured for at least two long weeks. Ivory poachers had shot the elephant in both legs, but it had probably bolted before they could subdue the massive beast enough to hack off its tusks. The infection had slowly spread throughout the animal’s limbs, and Appleby had to put it down. –

Enforcement chiefs at INTERPOL-UNEP inaugural meeting design blueprint for environmental security
National leaders of environmental, biodiversity and natural resources agencies, and departments with law enforcement responsibility, have gathered for the first time to design a global compliance and enforcement strategy to address environmental security. –

Lift rhino trade ban: Hunters
Giving endangered species such as rhinos a commercial value was the only way to save them from extinction, the SA Hunters and Game Conservation Association (SAHGCA) said. SAHGCA manager Dr Herman Els said they would ask South Africa to lobby for a change in the white rhino’s status at the next Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species meeting in 2013, to enable a controlled trade in rhino horn, Beeld reported on Friday. –

Brunei Darussalam
Strict steps to curb poaching in Brunei
The Forestry Department is strengthening its wildlife enforcement measures to curb poaching and illegal logging that take place in the deep Brunei forests, said the Deputy Director of Forestry Department. In an interview with The Brunei Times, Mahmud Hj Yussof said that relevant laws will be established "under one roof"’ to strengthen monitoring and enforcement activities for preserving the wildlife and rainforests in Brunei. –

Saving the sun bears

He knows each of the bears at the rescue centre by name, and they know him by sight. “If they see you one or two times they remember you, especially if you are bringing food,” explains Choun Vuthy, who seems to have been born smiling and never stopped since.Vuthy has been caring for Sun and Asiatic Black bears at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre since 1997, when there were only six. Now there are 118. –

Blind eye to forest’s plight
Rangers paid by an internationally funded conservation organisation have been directly profiting for years from the very trade they are supposed to be preventing in southwest Cambodia, documents obtained by the Post allege –

Nowhere to Hide: New Study Finds Human Activities Pushing Sumatran Tigers Closer to Extinction
A new study by Virginia Tech and World Wildlife Fund found that Sumatran tigers are nearing extinction as a result of human activities, particularly the conversion of natural forests into plantations for palm oil and pulp and paper.

Greenpeace accuses APP in illegal logging scandal
One of the world’s largest paper companies is illegally harvesting trees and destroying the habitats of rare Sumantran tigers to produce products sold on the shelves of major US retailers, Greenpeace alleged in a report released on Thursday. The report, which is based on findings from a year-long investigation by the environmental advocacy organization, claims that Asia Pulp and Paper is breaking Indonesian forest laws by using an endangered hardwood called ramin in its paper mills. –

Smuggled turtles sent back home to India
The Indonesian government repatriated 19 star tortoise (Geochelone elegans), smuggled into the country through Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in November 2011, back to their original habitat in India. –

Female ranger helps in taking care of Indonesia’s wildlife
GUARDING and protecting Indonesia’s biodiversity and wildlife is a tremendous challenge. Imagine these riches: Indonesia covers a mere 1.3 percent of the earth’s surface, yet it harbors 10 percent of all flowering plants, 12 percent of the world’s mammals, 16 percent of the world’s reptiles and amphibians, 17 percent of all birds, and more than a quarter of all marine and freshwater fish. This wealth can be attributed to the fact that Indonesia spans two major biogeographical realms: Indo-Malaya and Australasia, and is divided into seven distinct biogeographic regions. –

Nantu’s forest facing endless threats
It’s always lively and noisy in the forest of Nantu in the morning, with birds singing, macaques shrieking and jumping, and allo or white-tailed hornbills occasionally flapping their wings vigorously. On the forest floor are creeping and interwoven green rattan stems the size of adult human wrists, with their young shoots partly buried before winding up and around towering trees. The sky is obscured, covered by the dense jungle. –

Increasing, the Illegal Wildlife Trade in Bird Markets in Java and Bali Islands
The illegal wildlife trade occurring in a number of bird (animal/pet) markets in Java and Bali Islands has been likely to increase since early 2012. ProFauna Indonesia’s survey conducted in eight bird markets in the islands between January and February 2012 shows an increase in the number and species of animals being traded. In January 2012, there were more than 41 protected animals sold in the markets While in February, the figure increased to 62 individuals. Likewise, the species also increases. There were 12 species in January 2012 and increased to 15 species in February 2012. –

Laos’ Unethical Monkeys
When it comes to neighborly relations, Laos has often walked a fine line. Its insistence on, then a “maybe, maybe not” attitude to the construction of the Xayaburi Dam that threatens fish stocks in the lower reaches of the Mekong River, has tested relations with Vietnam and Cambodia. More broadly, its inability to curb wildlife trafficking has been a bone of contention among international authorities seeking to stop unscrupulous trade in live animals and their body parts. –

ACRES & Lao Zoo set up Vientiane centre to curb illegal wildlife trade
Singapore animal welfare group ACRES and Lao Zoo have set up the first Wildlife Rescue and Education Centre in Vientiane, Laos. ACRES, which stands for Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the ACRES Wildlife Rescue and Education Centre (AWREC) in Laos on Wednesday. Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law, Mr K Shanmugam and Laos Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Dr Thongloun Sisoulith were present at the ceremony.

Laos logging incident sees man shot, injured
A Cambodian man was injured last week after Lao authorities shot him while he was illegally logging rosewood in Laos’ Champasak district, near Stung Treng province, authorities said yesterday. Siem Pang district police chief Var Sophan told the Post yesterday that 27-year-old Sarin Da was accompanied by eight other “tresspassers”. –

Brighter future for jumbos
A new home awaits elephants which have been displaced from their natural habitat. With an increasing number of wild elephants being displaced from their forested habitat or injured by snares, a rescue centre is badly needed to shelter these animals. Such a facility, the Borneo Elephant Wildlife Sanctuary, will soon open in the district of Kinabatangan in the east coast of Sabah. –

Cooperation of all parties need to combat illegal wildlife trade
Minister – The cooperation all parties is needed to protect and prevent the illegal trade of wildlife in the country, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas. He said the goverment had many programme and legal framework to combat this problem but still needed cooperation from various parties in the country. –

Wildlife trafficking drops 80%
Wildlife trafficking cases have dropped by over 80% since the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 came into force. Wildlife Department figures showed that just 464 cases were recorded last year, compared to an average of 3,500 cases a year between 2007-2010. –

“Where’s My Mama? 2.0” Campaign Launched in Malaysia
The Slow Loris, one of the 25 most endangered primates in the world, shot to fame after various videos of the animal’s cute antics on YouTube went viral. A public enamored by its cute and cuddly appearance is fueling the illegal trade with little realization that Slow Loris infants are often stolen from their mothers to cater to the clamor for an adorable pet. The mothers are often killed or sold separately – either way leaving the young on their own with little hope for survival. –

Paje urges Lawmakers to classify Illegal Logging as a High crime
Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Ramon J. P. Paje is urging lawmakers to act immediately against the continued killing of forest protection workers by enacting laws classifying illegal logging as a heinous crime. Paje made the appeal following the death of another DENR employee in Agusan del Sur by suspected illegal loggers. –

Cebu tops illegal logs destination in Region 7
The province of Cebu is the top destination of illegal logs from Mindanao last year, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Central Visayas (DENR-7). More than half of the illegal logs confiscated by DENR in Central Visayas last year were in Cebu. Seized here were forest products reaching 250,6671 cubic meters worth P12,669,179.00. –

DENR frees protected bird species
Officials from the DENR Protected Areas and Wildlife Section (PAWS) yesterday morning released a silky purple-blue fresh water bird to its habitat at the Bog Lake of barangay San Roque, this city. –

Recent wildlife seizures open lid on burgeoning industry
A series of large hauls of live and dead wild animals _ and especially tigers _ over the past two months has blown the lid off the illegal wildlife trade and unlicensed breeding of exotic animals in Thailand. –

State agencies vow better safety for jumbos
State agencies have pledged to boost the protection of elephants which are faced with threats ranging from poaching to maltreatment. Damrong Pidech, chief of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, yesterday said the department backed plans to amend regulations on issuing ID cards to captive elephants to make it an effective tool to prevent poaching. –

Furore intensifies over elephant trade in Thailand
Repeated government raids on respected wildlife sanctuaries have damaged Thailand’s image at home and abroad. They may also have undermined the position of the National Parks chief, whose judgment has been called into serious question since revelations that killings of mature elephants in Kaeng Krachan recently were orchestrated to supply babies to elephant tourist parks – with the involvement of top officials in that park, several hours south of Bangkok. –

Phuket Elephants Being Examined in Checks for Illegal Animals
Elephants in the tourism trade are up for inspection again on Phuket this weekend with the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation checking IDs. Eighteen creatures were checked this afternoon at Siam Safari and more are likely to get the once-over on Saturday and Sunday at two other Phuket camps where preliminary checks have previously been made.

PES scheme to be trialed in national parks
The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation plans to launch a trial Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) scheme at five national parks and one wildlife sanctuary. Songtham Suksawang, director of the National Park Research Division, said PES could be a significant financial tool for ensuring long-term sustainable development of the ecological system. It follows the concept that people who benefit from the use of natural resources should make some payment in return to the people who are in charge of the preservation and protection of those natural resources. –

Thai nabbed in rhino horn smuggling investigation
A Thai man has been arrested at a Johannesburg casino in connection with a rhino poaching syndicate accused of hiring prostitutes to smuggle rhino horns. "He is the fourth suspect in a suspected criminal syndicate," Adrian Lackay, spokesman for the South African Revenue Service, said. –

Viet Nam
Scientists say elephants seriously endangered
Vietnam has been well known as a country with many elephants that can be found throughout the country. However, big international conservation organizations have repeatedly given warnings that elephants are in danger of extinction. One of the biggest threats to the life of elephants is the conflict between elephants and local residents. As the population rapidly increases, people tend to encroach into the habitat areas which were previously the territory of elephants and other wild animals. –

Local authorities still busy themselves with plans to protect elephants and yew
In 2011, the Dak Lak provincial people’s committee approved the elephant conservation project worth 61 billion dong, and the Artemisia conservation project worth 50 billion dong, in an effort to rescue and develop the last elephant and yew individuals in the Central Highlands. However, to date, no one can say for sure when the projects would begin. Meanwhile, Dr Bao Huy from the Tay Nguyen University has warned that the slow implementation of the conservation projects would be a big disadvantage to the province, since a lot of foreign and domestic organizations now show their big interests in the conservation work. –

Nat Geo documentary on tiger smuggling to be screened in Hanoi
A National Geographic documentary about the ongoing fight against tiger smuggling in Asia will be screened in Hanoi later this month.“Tiger Traffic,” part of the National Geographic Channel’s “Crimes Against Nature” investigative documentary series, will be screened at the Hanoi Press Club on March 29. –

S.Africa Seeks Vietnam, Mozambique Help as Rhino Poaching Soars
South Africa said it’s seeking cooperation from Vietnam and Mozambique after the number of Rhinoceroses poached so far this year rose to 150. More than half of the animals were killed in the Kruger National Park, the Department of Environmental Affairs said in an e-mailed statement today. Ninety arrests related to poaching have been made this year, it said. –

Note: Above reports and news items are compiled from both government agencies, national-WENs and task forces, and from media reports .

Copyright (C) 2011 ASEAN-WEN All rights reserved.

Sent to paxton.bkk — why did I get this?
unsubscribe from this list | update subscription preferences
ASEAN WEN · Piroj Building, Department of National Parks, Phaholyothin Road · Bangkok, Bangkok 10400
Email Marketing Powered by MailChimp


Namibia: More from Dries – ‘Africa’s Lost Children.’ Man-eating lions.

September 13, 2011

In recent days Hugh Paxton’s Blog has been proud to publish three chapters in an unpublished book written by Dries Alberts, former warden of Khaudum National Park one of Namibia’s most remote wilderness areas.

1. “The Many Faces of Satan” – an account of Kalahari Bushman belief and the very strange hunt for a killer elephant (posessed?) by an angry spirit.
2. “Walking with the Dead” – an account of tracking a lost man in the bush. A race against time, thirst, and finally hyeanas and the oncoming storm
3. “Man’s Loyal Serpent” – the discovery of a rotting female elephant with her recently starved bull calf beside her precipitates a man hunt by the Anti Poaching Unit that ends in more blood.

If you’ve not read them, please do. There’s Wilbur Smith and then there’s Dries Alberts. Wilbur’s great and has made the most dreary airport waits and shite Air Sudan flights a positive joy, but Dries has actually done and seen all that he writes about.

As stated earlier, all three chapters are posted on this Blog. All events occurred and are (for the most part and where relevant) recorded in park logbooks. It should be noted that Dries is no white beard re-writing history filtered by decades of forgetfulness or reinvention over a brandy. He’s young, highly active, and a lot of the events he writes about occurred just before or after I came to know him.

Hugh Paxton’s Blog wants to get the book published, but so far publishers hve been unresponsive. I don’t think they ‘get it’. A not unusual phenomenon when it comes to publishers. So for the time being, Hugh Paxton’s blog readers are in a rather special position. You’re reading stuff most people have never seen.

BLOG ED NOTE: Enough preamble! Let’s get going!


The three of us stood in the office, ready to embark upon our next assignment. It would not be an ordinary day today. Though it is what we are trained to do, the business of darting man-eating lions will cause even the bravest man to stand at full attention and listen with anticipation at the events which lead us to this task.

Accompanying me were a biologist, and a translator/tracker. We left Katima Mulilo in our Land Cruiser Station Wagon and headed straight to the site of the kill. Another vehicle from the Namibian Police followed us on our 150 kilometer track. They joined us to collect the remains of the body.

We reached the village, near Fort Doppies around lunchtime, 13:00. There was an eerie silence hanging in the air. Typically there would be fires burning, chickens wandering aimlessly about and dogs meandering from one hut to another. Today there was nothing. Not one visible sign of life.

The symmetry in the placement of the six huts within this village seemed quite religious. They were arranged in the shape of the half moon. The opening end of the half moon was facing where the sun rises and overlooked the Kangola flood plain. Over the flood plain the terrain was very dense with much vegetation – Delta. It seemed that one could see forever from this vantage point.

As we climbed out of the Land Cruiser I instructed the translator to call for the people in their native tongue. Suddenly the women started crying from within their huts. The sounds these women made was not that of ordinary sadness. The calls were that of sheer devastation and – fear. It became painfully obvious that this was not a normal problem animal situation. This one was scary. And when they cried out to us, asking if we could see the lions, we realized they believed the lions were still very nearby.

Approaching the first hut we saw some blood. The translator continued to call for the people to come out of their huts. This was a moment of drama I could only compare to the aftermath of war and the emptiness that is left for the survivors of her victims. Children and women alike, all crying out.

We found a shoe and picked it up. It still harbored the foot of this man who had succumbed to the fate of this hungry lion pride. Based on the freshness of the blood, we ordered the villagers to remain within their huts.

A period of time passed which seemed like an eternity due its stark sadness. One villager that had been trying to calm the people confirmed our report. One man had been killed.

Only 50 meters from the village we found part of the cranium, rib bones and part of the pelvic girdle. The bones were all very clean, as if they had been exposed for a long time. Now we realized that these were real man-eaters and that their hunger was ravenous.

The Police collected the remains and left for Katima Mulilo. We told the Police that we would deliver the lions to them for them to extract the remains of the man that had been consumed.

As the Police were pulling away, the villagers yelled out for them to stop. They were afraid of being left to the mercy of the lions who were inevitably still in the area. The lions had been at the village only one hour prior to this time. It was mid-day and quite unusual for the lions to have remained in the area for so long. Their fear was contagious. We knew they were near.

By around 16:00 hours we convinced the villagers to emerge from their huts. They proceeded to tell us the tragic details of this man’s demise.

Two young men were sent from the village to buy bread, food and other general supplies at a neighboring village just 2 kilometers away. Due to the likely dangers that prevail after dark, they were to have returned before sunset. The night brings death in Africa. Anything you cannot see coming is deadly, even to the most alert and clear-minded man. And in addition to the ever-present dangers of the night, these two men quite unfortunately were intoxicated. Vision blurred and motor skills hindered, it was nearly midnight when these two men clumsily foraged through the bush. The villagers were still awake around the fires, awaiting their return.

Suddenly they heard lions roaring – in very close proximity. The night air was cold and sound travels farther due to the coolness. This early warning was perhaps their only saving grace that night. The lion roars were that of a hunting call. It was easy for these villagers to determine the uniqueness of their mighty roars. And when the sounds of the older lions became audible, they recognized this call. They would instruct the young ones in the way of the kill.

The villagers then heard the two men calling for them.

“Where are you?” cried the villagers.

“We are on our way!” the two men frantically responded.

Since this was indeed a hunting call, all the villagers were quickly getting into their huts.

The first man narrowly escaped the hungry jowls of the pride. They were just behind him as he slammed shut the door of his hut. The lions plummeted head-first into the door as this man collapsed from exhaustion and fear in the safety of his home where his family had been anxiously waiting.

Now the lions focused only on the second villager they had been chasing. He was ever so close to safety when he tripped over a fire log and fell to the ground. For some reason he ran past his hut, past the open door that his family held for him. Some believe he may have sacrificed himself for fear that the lions would have followed him into the hut where his family would also have surely perished.

His wife and children could hear his bones crushing, his breathing stopping, the air being pushed out of his lungs and a very distinct smothering noise. Finally, the sound of blood rushing through his throat gave the family a sickening sense of relief. – Now at least, the pain was over.

After hearing this horrific account, we too were afraid for the villagers. We called in the Anti-Poaching Unit. Twelve men came and stayed at the village that night, with the order to shoot to destroy any lions nearing the village.

From Nature Conservation’s side, we were going in to kill. These were undoubtedly man-eaters, given the fact that they remained in the area of their first kill. These lions knew there was more meat to hunt here.

By sunset we had already located the pride. We were armed with the dart gun, the high powered hunting rifle and an automatic assault rifle. We considered getting the APU to come take out the whole pride with automatic assault rifles, but lions are much tougher than one would anticipate and we couldn’t risk only wounding a lion. A wounded lion has the strength of 50 lions, and taking them all on would be far too dangerous.

We decided that we would have our best chance at night, hunting these man-eaters, relying purely on our equipment and previous experience in problem animal control. But you begin to doubt your experience in a situation such as this. Each of us knew that this confrontation would surely be like none other. Hunting man-eaters at night; it seemed as if we were handing them the advantage card . . .

We checked the pride and found two large females, one young male and three sub-adults lying ever so peacefully, tails swaying in contentment and heads held high exhibiting all of the grandeur and confidence that the lion is known for. When these great creatures look at you, they look through you. Their eyes are like the sun. You cannot hide from the power that radiates from within them. It’s like capturing Africa’s soul and having it thrown right back at you. Their eyes burn through yours.

Perhaps it was because we knew they were man-eaters, but this pride was different. It was as if they were infinite. They clearly had a psychological grip on us. What they had shown us was the pride and glory of their victory.

There was no time to lose. Everything kicked into order. We did what we had been trained to do. The APU was charged with protecting the villagers. We would destroy the animals. Both teams were necessary as we feared the APU may only wound the lions.

We shot a Kudu cow just before sunset. We cut it open so the stomach was hanging out. We drug it behind our vehicle, leaving the trail of a fresh kill to entice the lions. We pulled the Kudu away from the village as our main objective was to keep the pride from the people. We then chained the Kudu to a tree and filled the entire carcass with sleeping pills. The lions then would eat from the carcass, ingesting the sleeping pills. They become sleepy; not aggressive and are far less threatening.

We waited close the Kwando River. We chose our spot carefully. We were looking up, in a defensive mode. We could easily see where we had chained up the Kudu. Everything must be in order. The maximum range for the dart is 15 meters. We would put a red filter on the spotlight as the animals cannot see red light. The light was necessary for the telescopic sights on the dart gun.

Now the sun was setting and we had a small braai. No one was spoke. We were all deep in concentration, still very caught up in the psychological grip the lions held over us. We could only focus on one thing; we were hunting man-eaters. It was like tunnel vision. They were staying – and they wanted more. One mistake would be fatal.

It was the middle of the year, Winter was starting. Grass was tall and the river was rising because the floods from Angola come late, after our rainy season. Buffalo and many other herds migrate from the Okavango Delta. Our rivers flood in the beginning of winter, which is not normal. It rains in Angola the same time it rains in Namibia, and when the floods from Angola reach us, it is Winter. The lush, green and subtle grass draws the game –
the final brush in a perfect painting; the lions follow the game . . .

This night you could not hear the sounds of the river. The silence was deafening. The wind was blowing but we could not feel anything. By 22:00 hours, the quarter moon was rising. The old people would say that when the quarter moon rises it is “pouring out good luck.”

We started playing the mating call on the speakers, followed by the feasting sound. After five minutes the man-eaters were responding to this “trap” – answering the artificial call.

Looking through binoculars we saw them eating the carcass and we could now hear them devouring the Kudu as well. We allowed about 45 minutes to pass as they ingested the sleeping pills, giving ample time for the drugs to take effect.

We had planned everything perfectly. The route we had set to apprehend the pride was heading into the wind. The wind would blow from the pride towards us, rather than allowing the wind to carry the smell of man to the lions. One of us drove, one held the red-filtered spot-light and I was darting.

The next few moments unfolded like so many times before. We went for the big females first as they proved to be the biggest threat. Over-dosing was not a concern as our objective was to destroy them.

As I aimed for my first shot, one female looked up towards me. It was a picture perfect moment. The blood that framed her face and nose was warmly highlighted by those deep, golden, yellow eyes. As she raised her head the dart hit her in the center of her chest cavity. She made a small sound, then continued eating. The other female was shot in the thigh. One sub-adult dropped. The dart must have hit bone on the remaining sub-adult as the sound of impact was louder than penetrating flesh, and he was obviously in great distress. These two sub-adults ran off into the bush. The two darted females were already sleeping at this point.

The escape of the sub-adult male was frightening because of the dense grass. Filter light does not help in these situations. – They could have been anywhere. The big threat was the females, and we had eliminated them. Our best chance of eluding the others was to retreat, especially since the younger ones would return for the already fallen females.

We returned to camp about a half an hour later, then returned to the site. We saw the two lions walking about 30 meters from the females.

The biologist instructed us to take off the filter. We would attempt to blind them with the spotlight. When we took off the filter we changed to a high-powered hunting rifle with lead points. When the points hit a solid mass, the explosion sends lead riveting throughout that area of the body.

He pointed his .30-06 caliber rifle at the sub-adult as he got out of the car. Fear was the air that we breathed . . .

The young male looked up into the full spot-light. The shot rang out and the lion dropped. It felt like winning the world cup – lifting the trophy. When the young sub-adult is alone, he is at his most vulnerable state. And with the sub-adult out of the way, we felt as if we had tamed Africa, but it is impossible to tame Africa.

The biologist didn’t want to take any chances. He was making another cartridge ready to fire, but it wouldn’t load. He then saw that the cartridge had exploded within the barrel. This rifle was now out of commission. He urgently called for me to give him the assault rifle, but the problem with this weapon was the full metal jacket cartridge. It doesn’t have nearly the impact as the hunting rifle, but the purpose was just to ensure that the lion had been killed.

As the biologist was looking inside the car, he cocked the rifle in the air. As he was looking up he saw the lion that he was sure he had killed getting up once again. He proceeded to shoot him at least 10 more times, all in the heart and lung area, some shots in the spinal cord. This lion would not relinquish. He started to move out of the spotlight’s reach. As he ran off, the biologist managed to get one shot into his thigh which knocked him into a seated position. He looked around at us and we knew this was the beginning of our demise. The full-meal jacket was not powerful enough to kill him.

That moment will remain embedded in my mind in slow motion. Everything, time stopped. This young male, man-killer was looking straight into the spotlight. We knew that he was all but blinded, and still it was if he was shooting right back at us, manipulating us with his awesome strength, perseverance and power. Africa’s first born – “The carrier of her thrown,” some will call her.

Perhaps nature intended it this way, but during this brief interlude, man and beast shared the same fear. The lion continued in his quest for life despite his many wounds. The grass was waving, but we could not feel the wind. We saw no stars, only the stark, cold blackness of the African night. Tender thoughts of my mother came quickly to the forefront of my mind, but briefly. If was a most powerful moment. Life’s essence, pouring in from all sides. – The desire to live had been defined.

The lion ascended into a crouching position and lunged toward us, his chest filled with bullets and blood spurting violently from his wounds. His ears were fixed, flattened against his head – another indication of the full charge we were about to encounter. Using every last bit of survival tactics he had learned in his young life, he charged into the brightness of the blinding light. The lion does not know defeat. He will never surrender. Maybe that is what I admire the most. They never give up. They cannot give up, or death is certain. His existence will not be known, if the fearless lion forfeits the thrown . . .

With each stride the lion takes, another bullet exists the chamber. A melodic rhythm unfolded as the opposing players in this fight for life seemed to follow the other’s lead. The biologist was looking up at this point, no longer aiming at the lion. There was an overwhelming feeling that perhaps he would soon be greeting his ancestors. And it seemed only righteous in paying homage to this champion, to look death in the eye, rather than down the barrel of the gun . . .

It’s the way you leave this earth that counts. There may be nothing more glorious than being taken by a lion the African Bush. Your ancestors will greet you as a hero. And once you run away from danger, this badge of courage can never be reinstated.

So there lies honor in death. There lies great honor in death. For at that moment it was between the biologist and the lion. From the perspective of Nature Conservation it seemed the lion was running straight at the biologist. It was almost like watching a court case. Africa is the judge and she decides at this moment. Guilty or not guilty. By this time, the lion is ten meters away. I reached for my pistol. For the first time in my life – it felt as if I was greeting an old friend. I cocked it.

In the meantime the biologist is still shooting almost aimlessly. The lion finally dropped in front of him as the grains of sand kicked up at the biologists’ feet. The jury had deliberated. The young male is killed at last. This fighter – and he was a fighter. A mighty, grand beast –regal to his last breath.

Over twenty shots from the assault rifle were emptied into him before he finally dropped, in addition to the shot that exploded within the barrel of the biologist’s gun.

The sub-adult got away. Under the most optimum circumstances, he would have a 15% chance of survival on his own. We had destroyed his family. He was alone- and he was young; a deadly combination for any of God’s great creatures on these most sacred grounds. He would die. If not taken by hyaenas, he would surely die of starvation. The lion’s strength is derived from the pride; like a mechanical beast – one gear turns the other.

The only job left is to destroy the darted lions. I would use my 9 millimeter pistol. I walked over to where they slept, pushed the barrel into the ear lobe of the first female – and fired. Due to the size of these females, I fired three shots at each lion. Only two shots each for the sub-adults. As I walked over to the last big female, I was thinking to myself what a peaceful way to die this would be; a good way to die. I was about five steps from her when she lifted her head; her ears twitched. This was another indicator that the tranquilizer drugs were beginning to wear off. Those huge, yellow eyes – like the sun, and I drank this fear.

You get lost in their eyes. Their sheer power and strength caused me to think that maybe now I will die. And for a split second – there was comfort in knowing that perhaps I may be with my loved ones who have gone before me. Alive or dead – you will think of your loved ones in crucial moments such at these.

She looked up, and instinctively I shot her. It was different though, because she was looking at me. And her eyes delivered this message –

“Why do you seek to destroy me? I am the keeper of this land. You are the intruder.”

And the message was as clear, as if she had spoken to me in my native tongue. She said to me, “Can’t you see that I am the ruler of the land? I am on top. This land is mine, not yours. I am still to give birth to many young. I have to teach them the ways of the land. I want to smell the rain and walk under the moon.”

Then life was taken from her, robbed from her – ended.

And the struggle for her to make it to this point in life, in this harsh, unpredictable environment – all came to an end in front of my very eyes like the final curtain drawing in a Shakespearean play. The years of sacrifice by her pride, all the secrets she held within her, died.

“And you, you are taking it from me and my now unknown off-spring.”

This millisecond in life. The lion was still on top of the world. That female was the queen. There could not have been anything more powerful or beautiful than she. It was one of those moments that you only get once in a lifetime, as life was taken from her. This great, great creature; Africa’s first born, the lion is. She will never give up.

Our hunt was concluded. And as the Namibian Government’s policy stipulates, the skins of the hunted lions were presented to the father of the man that was killed. And on that day, a clear sunny June day, it was as if he too accepted Africa’s judgment. As he stroked the lion’s skin the old man said –

“I chose this life.”

As we drove away from the village, we turned back to see the old man looking around, perhaps for one last glimpse of what he had lost. We saw this old man looking out over the flood plains. He eventually kneeled down. Maybe he was saying a prayer. Africa is so pure. So straight-forward. You can’t take chances. But sacrifices – we all make sacrifices. The dear loss of this man actually may have caused him to respect Africa more – as it should. I knew I had indeed gained a greater respect for her . . .

Just as this wise old man had lost a son, Africa had also lost her sons and daughters.

It was a lose, lose situation. My heart was bleeding for this old man, and for the fallen lion pride. But it makes you strong. You’ll never know where this strength comes from. You don’t know it exists. And I know that the day will come when we will meet again in the land were only peace exists. – And within that magical moment, we will admire our combined strength.

As I think back on that day, I long for the simpler life. The simple, clear, uncorrupted way of life. Let Africa be the judge. She will rule with a wise hand as she’s always done. She is the sayor of the law.

I pray for the lion’s roar never to end.
For its power and strength never to fade.
In Africa, oh – how so wholesome made . . .

Inspiring News From Namibia

June 22, 2010

Feeling the planet is doomed? Hopeless?

Check John’s speech at

and cheer up!

Nice work, John!



Desert Lions

December 16, 2009


Great stuff!

Killing lions

November 7, 2009

This one is from Ben Beytell. One of my wife’s colleagues working in the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism.

Rather sad.

The people involved were Bushmen and their language involves a lot of tongue clicking.  The English language doesn’t really click.

Some of the story might look hag-ridden by typos but the symbols are clicks.

FROM:  Ben’s Briefcase

“Tjek! Tjek!” #Cwi shouted while he furiously hacked away at the tough sinews connecting the haunch of the giraffe carcass to the rest of the animal. He was glancing nervously at a low bush about thirty yards away. I was looking the same way, but across the sights of my puny little rifle that was trained on the forehead of one very annoyed lioness losing her evening meal to a bunch of meat-hungry Zu-whasi.

“Be careful of the old woman, and shoot straight when she comes for you”, Xhishe advised from the safety of the back of the pick-up.

“There’s the old man!” someone shouted excitedly. He was right. The big male raised himself, and sauntered lazily away to the protection of a nearby bush. His belly, filled to the extreme, swayed from side to side in rhythm with his gait, and he flopped down with an audible grunt, his face red with blood, and with a look of absolute content in his eyes.

We eventually loaded an ample amount of meat, and were on our way back to Tsumkwe. I was trying, in vain, to light my pipe with trembling fingers when Xhishe explained to me about the strange relationship the Zu-whasi had with the King of the Beasts:

“The lions are our dogs, and they care for us”, he explained. “When they kill something, and we arrive in time, we allow them to eat enough, and then we ask them for some of the meat. They allow us to take some meat, but we always leave something for them to eat the following day. You must just be careful when there is a female with small ones. She will think you want to take the food of the young ones, and may attack you. But that is what women are like, as you know. Some people say there are those amongst us who can change into lions, and like to communicate with them when it is dark, but that is not something we talk about, because it is like the people who have bad spirits in them.”

This symbiotic relationship, however, was soon to change with the arrival of cattle in Tsumkwe: When we off-loaded the first two hundred cattle, about twenty took to the bush, never to be seen again, except for the occasional report of the remains found by a hunter after a lion kill. The lions were having a field day: Never was it that easy to kill their prey! Then they became bolder, and entered the town  in search of easy prey. I remember standing at the kraal, looking in bewilderment at the lifeless bodies of 27 cattle killed the previous night by a pride of 13 lions who simply ripped apart the mesh-wire and crawled through to start the massacre. There was no other option than to start a war against the lions. In response to hysterical threats from MET Head Office in Windhoek, we started with the elimination process: We shot them at night at the carcasses of freshly-killed cattle; we hunted them down in vehicles backed up by Zu-whasi on horseback, and sometimes on foot when the kills were fresh, and they had eaten a lot. Some even set trap cages, and shot them in their bloodied faces at close range. Even the Zu-whasi shot them with poisoned arrows when they encountered them in the bush, and they explained to me that a lion dies very easily from poison, because they are not the same as antelope, and the poison takes effect much faster.

The lions also, had their revenge: People were hurt, and even killed in the process. There were many narrow escapes, and there were lions that gave us a hard time, like old “Kromvoet” and his pride. He was wounded in the front leg when one of his females was also wounded, and this led to the tragic death of a Zu-whasi tracker the next morning during the final confrontation, but that is not something I want to share with you. He became a myth in the Zu-whasi culture, and I believe even today, his endeavors are told by wise old men to the children, who listen in wide-eyed awe, while snuggled up to the comfort of their mother’s bodies. He was the lion that could not be killed by any human: When he tired of the pursuit, he would lie up and wait for the hunters to pass, and then sneak away like a ghost in the night, back upon his track. He could disappear in thin air without a trace, and he fooled even the best trackers. He was a ghost, the spirit of the most powerful witchdoctor that ever lived and he smirked at the attempts of mortals who tried to end his life here on earth, because he was not from here.

That is why I believe the Zu-whasi: It is not true that he was killed by a Trophy Hunter. I can, however, imagine the scenario in real life: The old lion is resting in the shadow of a low bush. He is fortunate to have killed a warthog at the water the previous evening. His body is aching from the fight he had had with the young male a week ago when he lost the last female of his pride to the victor. He lifts his head to investigate the slight noise that disturbed him, realising too late that the female is not there to warn him. He recognises the human forms standing thirty yards away, and is at first, not concerned, because the foremost has the slight build of a Zu-whasi, with which he has had many friendly encounters before. Then there is a flash, and he feels the punch to his chest simultaneously with the dreaded roar of the weapon he fears most. And he realises that he must flee, but he cannot breath, and his muscles fail to respond, and he barely manages to utter one last defiant roar before his big, scraggy head falls forward to rest between his forelegs, one which is bent at a strange angle from the old wound that gave him his name.

This story is about my first experience with Human – Wildlife Conflict. Why is “Human” mentioned first? Is it only because the topic is in alphabetical order?

%d bloggers like this: