DELHRA deeply concerned about desert lions

DELHRA has expressed deep concern about the state of desert-adapted lions of Namibia, saying that the population is declining exponentially and that conservation methods are proving futile.
katharina moser
Desert Lions Human Relations Aid (DELHRA), with the help of its network of members, farmers, conservation area managers, lodge managers and tourist guides, has re-evaluated the survival prospects of Namibia's desert lions and painted a bleak picture of their condition.
"The isolated, fragmented remnant population of desert-adapted lions is declining exponentially and at an accelerating rate, and has passed the critical point of recovery," DELHRA wrote on social media last week.
In April, lion experts John Heydinger, Uakendisa Muzuma and Craig Packer published a research paper entitled First systematic inventory of desert-adapted lions, northwest Namibia. It estimates the population at 57-60 adult lions and 14 cubs, a decline of 46-60% over the past five years. "Although the population is considered stable and self-sustaining despite the recent decline, human-lion conflict remains the main cause of lion mortality, and the recent decline in available prey is also of concern," the paper says.
The research provides an "honest and accurate insight" into the situation of desert lions, the DELHRA assessed the work. "This report reflects our own findings and reports."
However, the estimated 57 to 60 lions includes all lions in the northwest Kunene region up to Etosha National Park (excluding its lion population). "We have claimed that 24 desert-adapted lions remain, as we only consider the lions west of the Etendeka area to be desert-adapted lions and those east of it to be normal savannah lions," DELHRA said. "The latter number around 36 and the desert-adapted lions around 24, which brings our estimates very close to those of the author of the survey report, Dr. John Heydinger."
DELHRA bases its concern for the desert-adapted lions on the loss of the entire Aub pride: the female XPL 142 was poisoned; another female pack member starved to death, its mother died of natural causes (probably also from starvation), the male pride member is also missing and is presumed dead.
"As far as we know, the once proud Aub pride (XPL 136, 141, 83, 144, 142) no longer exists. Add to this the trophy hunting of the second to last survivor of the Obab pride (XPL 107), Mwezi, and the Hoanib lioness that was poisoned near Ganamub last year, and we arrive at about seven dead lions that we have to subtract from the last 25 or so surviving desert lions estimated about a year ago,” DELHRA said.
The organisation believes there are other dead animals that are unknown.
“It is clear that the devastating combination of loss of natural prey and retaliatory killings through poisoning, shooting and trophy hunting has turned these lions into ducks in a shooting gallery, that they will not survive the current status quo and that the conservation methods currently used are futile, even if enormous financial resources are spent on them,” DELHRA said on social media.