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NEWS FLASH #1: lions vs purros

08/03/2010

Two sub-adult male lions are keeping the residents of Puros on their toes.

After the rains, their prey animals have mostly moved out of the Hoarusib River – where the young cats were born and bred – and onto the plains, leaving the inexperienced teenagers to seek alternative food sources.   Unfortunately the community’s donkeys seem to tickle their taste buds and – being easy prey – it appears that the young lions have developed rather an appetite for such a convenient supply of “take-out”.

The community of Puros has been extraordinarily tolerant of their co-residents and has gone to great lengths to build a “kraal” for corralling the cattle at night.  This structure has been erected approximately 10 km away from the Gomatum and Hoarusib River confluence, where the youngsters like to hang out.  The vegetation is ideal for the big cats:  thick bush for hiding, shade to sleep through the heat of the day and, most importantly, water, which attracts a whole menu of potential lion food.  Unfortunately this oasis is also the source used by the Puros community to water their cattle!

Relatively unfazed, the villagers of Puros have adapted to the situation: intrepid cattle herders armed with nothing more than a stick and reinforced by other members of the community, herd the livestock from the far-off plains to the water pool during the searing midday heat, when the lions are most likely to be at their most inactive!  After all, as Leon Kasupi, chairman of the Puros Conservancy remarks, this is how his ancestors used to live.  Sara, the local shopkeeper, wants to save the lions, but admits that they are bad for business, as no-one wants to walk around after sunset!  Despite an inordinate pride in “their” lions, there is nevertheless a real danger that something can easily go wrong.

Should a lion attack and injure – or even worse – kill someone, the consequences for the villagers, years and years of conservation and last, but not least, for the lions, will be dire. A Kunene Conservancy Safaris team – Russell and Tina Vinjevold, together with Boas Hambo – spent a couple of days at Puros, to assist the community and to help the Puros Lion Officers to monitor the lions and to assess the situation. The Lion Officers, KCS and various other supporters are working closely with lion researcher, Dr Flip Stander.

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