Cattle and game vs. lions, who wins?!

To add to the depth my research topic, I’m looking at other avenues to collect data.  This includes delving into the controversial world of trophy hunting.  Although many cannot see the appeal to trophy hunting (their question being “why kill an innocent wild animal for fun?”; my retort would be “why eat an innocent animal for gluttony?” ;-) ) it has been proven in many situations to protect wild habitat that would otherwise be converted into agriculture (and as my research is demonstrating, agriculture and wildlife rarely get along).  This habitat can be used by both trophy animals and other wildlife alike.  However, being that predators can’t tell the difference between a privately bought sable antelope for US$20,000 and a wild one, game managers often hate predators more than livestock farmers.  In fact, some have said that the worst enemy of the cheetah is not the sheep farmer, but the trophy hunting manager.  So this is why last week I decided to visit some taxidermists in town to find out how I can get in contact with the trophy hunting industry to get some interviews. 

I’ve never been to a taxidermist’s before, but for those who know me, I have a love for all things macabre.  Upon entering one taxidermist’s, I was told to visit the workman out back who would be able to inform me on where to get contacts for trophy hunting outfitters.  The workshop was a large room filled with wire statues of giraffe heads waiting to have the skin attached, little coffee tables made from elephant feet, chairs constructed of kudu horns with cheetah fur upholstery, a wall mount of the behind of a warthog (why, may I ask, would someone want this?!) and a nearly finished stuffed brown hyena getting what can only be described as a thorough blow dry from a hairdryer. Interesting!

Being that I want to collect data on farming in Namibia, I’ve been on the hunt (beg your pardon for the pun) for a farm to live on.  I found a nice farm south east of here that farms indigenous cattle, Nguni, that have huge long horns to protect themselves from predators and also to radiate heat.  Upon organising my visit to the farm, the generous owner offered one night’s accommodation and food.  I had to tell her that I can’t eat meat, to which she replied “No problem, I can cook us an oryx steak”!
The farm itself was lovely and I got to meet some Nguni cattle, which are just magnificent.  Their fur is a mix of white, black, brown and red dappled together to form amazing patterns.  The lady of the farm makes crafts from the hides, which are sold in town.  They look beautiful!
Some of the Nguni cattle at the farm at sunrise
Only 15 km from the farm is a refugee camp called Osire, which I had never heard of before.  Apparently most of the people living there are from the Angolan wars, but many have since returned to their home countries or been deported elsewhere.  It was a small, basic, purpose-built town with informational signs on the roads coming in and out of it.
Sign coming out of Osire: "Zero AIDS-related deaths"
The roundtrip to visit the farms was about 400 km, mostly on gravel and sand roads.  Since getting my car, I’ve not had much experience on dirt roads, so this was a test for my driving skills.  I’ve decided that I really don’t like driving in deep, loose sand, as the car wiggles about from side to side in an erratic manner, so you have to take it really slowly.  Plus it doesn’t help that you’re always having to look out for wildlife crossing the road (I nearly killed a suicidal warthog on the way up there) or over-enthusiastic herding dogs chasing after the car.

Upon returning to Monique’s house today, I was surprised to learn from her that apparently some people 10 km from here have spotted a wild lion wandering around!  I wonder where on earth it came from, where it’s going and how long it’ll be until it gets shot by a farmer.  I hope it stays well clear of any game farms, but the allure of hundreds of fenced-in prey must be too much to handle for a bloody-thirsty creature.
Lion eating a cow: not such a happy sight for a farmer!


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