Ula and Elsa to remain at Harnas

The court ruled that the Minister of the Environment, Forestry and Tourism failed to consider the lionesses' welfare when he decided that they should be confiscated.
Kristien Kruger
"Lions are animals with feelings. Moving people from one place to another can be upsetting, but people can express their dissatisfaction, animals cannot. Nature has placed animals in the care of humans to ensure that provision is made for their well-being at all times."
Judge Orben Sibeya said this in his ruling on Friday in which he ruled that two lionesses born in September 2017 on the farm Harnas near Gobabis in captivity should not be moved.
Sibeya dismissed the Minister of the Environment, Forestry and Tourism, Pohamba Shifeta's decision that the lionesses, Ula and Elsa, should be confiscated and taken to another facility in Okapuka.
"It will be a tragedy of justice if the decision of the minister of 28 September 2021 stands. Not only for the animals, Ula and Elsa, but for humanity as caretakers of the animals.
"The well-being of the lionesses was ignored," reads the verdict.
Despite the fact that Ula and Elsa were born in 2017, Harnas only applied to the ministry in February 2021 for the detention of these two large carnivores.
In September of the same year, Shifeta decided to confiscate two animals.
The three trustees of the Harnas Wildlife Foundation Trust, Marieta van der Merwe, her daughter Marlice van Vuuren and Michiel Pieter Kirsten, then filed an urgent application at the High Court in Windhoek.
They obtained an interim interdict that the animals must remain on Harnas pending the settlement of an application challenging Shifeta's decision.
Two years later, the court on Friday finally ruled in favor of the trustee of Harnas and Shifeta's decision was finally set aside.
Although Sibeya ruled in their favour, he pointed out that the trustees also contributed to the lions' situation and therefore no costs order was issued in their favour.
Harnas 'not heard'
"Even if Harnas is wrong, the minister [Shifeta] should have given Harnas an opportunity to be heard before the decision was made.
"The minister should have heard Harnas and the applicants for recommendations, the viability of the recommendations and their view of the relocation, as well as the destination," said Sibeya.
Shifeta claimed in his court papers that he thought it would be unnecessary to speak to the applicants because they had already admitted the offence.
Sibeya pointed out that parties, who will be affected by a decision, must be heard in order to comply with fair procedures.
In addition to ruling that the applicants should be heard, Sibeya ruled that Shifeta "failed to consider the welfare of the lionesses".
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