Shenton Safaris

Hunters to target last remaining adult male lion in Namibian conservancy?

A suspicious trophy hunting advertisement has been placed online for a threatened Namibian desert lion. And it would appear that the target is the only known adult male lion in the Sesfontein Conservancy.

male lion, Kebbel ('XPL81'), Namibia ©Inki Mandt

Kebbel (XPL 81) ©Inki Mandt

The advert has since been removed, but we secured screengrabs of the advert – featured below.

We have been informed that a large male lion in the Sesfontein Conservancy has been declared a ‘problem animal’, and a permit has been issued to a trophy hunter to kill him. Our sources advise us that there is only one known remaining adult male lion in the conservancy – XPL 81, or Kebbel (photo above).

Kebbel’s former coalition partner (XPL 87, photo below)) disappeared a few years ago and has not been seen since (thought to have been hunted), and it is therefore unlikely (although not impossible) that XPL 87 is the subject of this problem animal permit.

male lion, Namibia, 'XPL87' ©Inki Mandt

XPL 87 ©Inki Mandt

We approached Izak Smit, co-founder of conservation association DeLHRA, and he had this feedback:

Izak Smit:

“Judging by the advertisement and based on feedback from our networks, this lion will be hunted in the Sesfontein Conservancy by Leopard Legend Hunting Safaris on a ‘problem animal permit’.

The advertisement wording – ‘an extremely rare lion trophy opportunity…’ and, ‘this lion population has adapted to the arid region of the North-west of Kaokoland and is very unique’, is of concern as it places value on the rarity and uniqueness of this lion.

Facebook post screenshot 1

The Facebook advert, since removed

“I attended a meeting with the Namibian Ministry of the Environment and Tourism (MET) during the past week, and took the opportunity to question a senior MET official about this hunt – specifically whether a specific lion had been earmarked and identified for this hunt. I also enquired as to whether ‘problem animal’ protocol (in terms of the National Policy on Human-Wildlife-Conflict Management plan) had been followed, specifically with regard to establishing of the identity of the specific lion responsible for livestock killings, as MET is required to do.

“The MET official in question expressed his dismay with the terminology used in the advertisement pertaining to how rare the lion is as he felt that this was inviting an outcry from animal rights activists. The use of this terminology, of course, is clearly aimed at whetting the appetite of the hunter and justifying the price tag of USD65 000, much higher than ‘ordinary lion’ price tags.

Facebook post screenshot 2

The Facebook advert, since removed

“During the subsequent meeting with MET, the sharing of the spoils and the benefits for the communities were discussed. Typically the community would get paid about USD2 500 for a lion trophy. A very senior community representative and conservationist also present at the meeting was shocked to learn this and the general feeling was that of disgust. Translated into Namibian dollars the community would get N$32 500 and the hunting outfit N$812 500 – a mere 3,8% of the trophy revenue generated.

“The question now arose in the discussion following this, that the target lion appears to be only adult male lion left in the conservancy –  XPL 81, also known as Kebbel – a research subject, collared and monitored by the Desert Lion Project. Surely he is worth a whole lot more to the community alive than dead? This lion is a huge tourist attraction that contributes to filling lodge beds.

“Also, since he is the last productive adult male in the Hoanib, Okongue and Orowau areas, surely killing him would be detrimental to the surviving prides, given the already drastically skewed gender ratios that exist (Editor’s note: see Simon Espley’s thoughts on gender bias in the desert-adapted lion populations in this post). The Ganamub and Tomakas areas lost eight lions to human-wildlife conflict in June alone.

“I would question whether the identification of which lion is the ‘problem animal’ has been sufficiently proven – it seems convenient that the animal declared a ‘problem animal’ happens to be the only remaining potential trophy lion left in the area.

“DeLHRA would offer to collect funding and pay the N$32 500 to the community to prevent the killing of this iconic male and support the vital tourism lodges in the area. We have no problem in principle with sustainable utilisation of any species, but this case seems totally unproductive and not in the community’s interest.”

lion baiting, male lion, screenshot, hunting

XPL87 photographed at a hunting baiting site. The photograph would suggest that this lion has already been hunted.

Africa Geographic Editorial

We're the Africa Geographic editorial team – a diverse set of editors, designers and social media natives, all united by our passion for this addictive continent.

  • Karin Bleeker

    Hunting must be stopped for once and for always. Hunters pay money for killing. We should enjoy our planet and not destroy it. And do not talk with me about conservation.

  • Ndovu

    The proportion designated for the community shows that hunting does not benefit conservation. Desert lions are a draw for people who want to see them alive and this lion would earn the community far more alive than dead.

  • Alice

    Who gave permission to hunt this last lion? Is it the Namibian Government or is it the people running the sanctuary or is it the hunter’s association? It is easy to say that “this” lion is in conflict with people but then every lion is. Why hunt dangerous animals when there are goats or cattle around for diner. But that is not an excuse to kill them. So much money is there to be made but indeed it is not benefiting the community. They can make money from people who want to see them alive and then they will protect their money making lions.

  • Gail Potgieter

    How’s this for an idea:
    Put this lion’s hunting tag up for auction, and let the highest bidder win. All legible hunting operators, photographic operators (i.e. those that are in Sesfontein conservancy) and NGOs working in the area are allowed to bid. The community leaders can attend the auction, and have the right to set a minimum price before the bidding begins. Once the winner has been established, that lion has been ‘bought’ – the winner may choose whether they want to shoot it (i.e. the hunters) or not (photographic/NGO). If it is bought ‘non-lethally’, then that lion is still considered “dead” as far as hunting quotas are concerned – it can never be hunted as a trophy or a problem animal, without the new owner’s prior written consent. If that lion is shot by anyone, then the shooter is liable to pay the lion’s “owner” the full price they paid at the auction.

    The money made at the auction (from whichever source) should be earmarked specifically for human-lion conflict mitigation, of the community’s choosing (e.g. kraals, radio collars, or compensation). This way, the community makes the maximum amount of money out of each lion, and the non-hunting stakeholders have a way to prevent a valuable lion’s death. It will also reveal (to communities and the government) just how valuable a desert lion is in the eyes of the hunters and the tourism operators/NGOs. If the non-hunting groups come to the party as they should, then all will know that a living lion is of greater value than a dead one.

    • Great idea Gail! We have emailed you about it.

    • Tanya

      Brilliant idea! However, we should never underestimate the huge amount of money a trophy hunter is wiling to pay to mount a lion’s head on his wall, especially when advertised as ‘rare’. At this stage of the game, any forward thinking ideas such as yours should be seriously considered to help stop the downward spiral of lions in the wild.

      • Gail Potgieter

        Indeed, the trophy hunters may value the lions more than the non-hunters, which is a risk (from the lion’s point of view, at least) to my suggestion. However, if hunters really value the lion that highly, then the money they are willing to pay for it should go to the communities (specifically to conflict mitigation within communities), rather than the rather small amount the communities would get under the current system. These lions have been heavily undervalued by the communities, and that is what needs to be rectified.

        The two main groups that provide value (from the communities’ perspective) are the hunters and the tourism operators. I feel that this system will provide a fair test of which of these values lions more. If the tourism operators really know how to “sell” encounters with desert-adapted animals, then they should be willing to top any price a hunter sets. After all, the tourism operator will benefit from that lion for many years to come, whereas the hunter can only benefit from it once. If tourism operators really ‘put their money where their mouth is’, then the communities will realise that living lions are far more valuable than dead ones.

        • Tanya

          I most certainly agree with you on several points. Currently, the only ones hugely benefiting are the hunting fraternities, pocketing large amounts of money compared to the ‘custodians’ of these nature conservancies. These communities also need to be made aware that in the long term, if all lions are (trophy) hunted, the money well will dry up, leaving them with nothing to offer, as lions are a huge draw card to most international visitors wishing to see them in the wild. Photography tours to Africa is one of the fastest growing industries at present and in my mind a sustainable win/win conservation practice for both man and wildlife.

        • Steve Jakobs

 If I murdered your mother, but told you I valued her life, would that make you feel better? No, you’d want me dead…right? People like you should all be killed in the most painful way possible..

          • nero88888

            trophy hunters should be gut shot so they die an agonizing death

          • Baconater

            Steve, I love bacon!!!

  • Whattheh***

    As usual some small human [with a gun he probably does not handle like an arm extention!!], wants to kill something that cannot be recreated in its unique form, only as a stuffed form in some ugly room. Really? Have we learned nothing from the past? The money will simply be spent on supposedly important human trappings- or disappear with no trace! Amazing how hunters argue that only having a monetary value keeps animals alive! Well if that is the case we are even more sad than I thought. Humans can only clone things, they cannot and never will be able to re create God’s works, including themselves. Practically, to shoot the last remaining male in the conservancy is utterly short sighted and very greedy. He is probably a really beautiful specimen and is worth loads as a trophy. Lions are already under threat from breeding farms, medicine, interbreeding, canned hunting, and in the wild, droughts, floods, and every other natural disaster, and that is not even taking into account the small percentage of wild cubs that reach adulthood. A fact that Nat Geo is fond of raising in their documentaries. What monetary value has all of that? Problem animal – yes but it is human!

  • Lou Burns


    • Chris Banda

      Thanks Lou! Great comment.

  • Greg Stayart

    The trophy hunters are destroying what little remains of our most precious animals. At an ever increasing rate they are driving animals to extinction. The poisonous monsters we call trophy hunters are the most despicable race of predatory scum. We must rid the earth of them before it is too late.

  • Kerstin Louw

    I am so sick and tired of the same old, same old. Excuses after excuses, theories after theories and everyone is still corrupt. Hunting at all levels should be stopped. The only ones ever losing are the animals. URGH!

  • Denine Mishoe

    GOD DAMN THESE POS M’FERs STRAIGHT TO HELL!! I want to put out an advert for all mercenaries to be there at the same time and TAKE OUT the guide, the trophy hunter and even those that allow this unchecked (8 lions murdered in June alone!!!)

  • Denine Mishoe

    GOD DAMN THESE POS M’FERs STRAIGHT TO HELL!! We need to get down on their level, as clearly the Please Don’t and Please Stop is NOT working, and start a fund-raiser to place adverts to hire mercenaries to be there at the same time and TAKE OUT the guide, the trophy hunter and even those that allow this unchecked (8 lions murdered in June alone!!!)

  • Dana Ellis Hunnes

    this is absolutely disgraceful and terrible! If this male lion is killed, there will be none left to repopulate this population…female lions need a male mate. There are so few lions left in the world…This lion is worth so much more alive than dead.

  • Ben Brayev

    trophy hunters.. haha. you’re all a joke :). and you all will pay the price for destroying nature.

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