After our recent blog post showing tourists getting too close to a desert lion in Namibia, our attention was drawn to similar incident that took place about 8 years ago. We thought we would share the pictures of that incident with you.
This sequence of photos were sent to the Predator Conservation Trust in 2006 and shared on Safaritalk. They show a tourist vehicle being attacked by one of the desert lions in Namibia in September 2006. George Marquart managed to get the pictures as the vehicle was reversing away from the scene. The incident took place near the Skeleton Coast Park and according to the guide driving at that time it was the first one to be spotted in the area since 1972. Normally the closest sightings are 40kms to the south.
Dr Flip Stander of the Desert Lion Project said that he arrived at the scene two days after the event, and spent almost four months there, following the lion and reconstructing the incident. It is believed that in this case the lion had been harassed by tourist vehicles and had finally lost his patience however in July of 2007 Flip Stander’s Desert Lion Project research vehicle was also attacked in a totally unprovoked incident. Although the lion never recovered from the incident and was eventually shot, the good thing is that the incident led to their current tour-guide training programme.
In an interview with Safaritalk Dr Flip Stander said that the long-term goal is to have the desert lions range from the Orange River, in the south, to the Kunene River, in the north. Despite these incidents, he encouraged tourism to the area saying that tourism will have a big and (hopefully) positive impact. Much of his work focusses on ensuring that the local communities derive benefits from lions through tourism that out-weigh the costs of living alongside them. However he went on further to say that the tourism development is not without its problems such as the harassment of wildlife by tourist vehicles. In response to this problem, Dr Flip Stander developed a training course for tour-guides on approaching and viewing lions.