Saving lions must include understanding the local people, in this case the SAN folk of Namibia.
This from the field from Marnus who saves lions
Tsumkwe is a small town that is located in the North East of Namibia. A town (not even sure it can classify as a town really) that boasts several local enterprises, most selling basic items and one fuel station/bar/local supermarket and lets not forget a local library. Town is constantly buzzing with people, cows, dogs and the odd chicken here and there and it amazes us how so many folk are just “sitting around” daily. Driving approximately 28 kilometers north towards Kaudum National Park, there is a turn to the left. At the junction, a small village that comprises of local Bushmen or SAN folk of Namibia (as they like to be known) can be found.
The village is surprisingly clean with little to no trash dangling in the shrubs and grasses. Children from all ages wave at you as if you are the queen of England as they attempt to out run the vehicle. The SAN folk are a remarkable tribe that emphasizes a lot on family time. When the men are at home, back form a traditional hunting trip, they spend quality time with their children either playing football or lying in the sand under a shaded tree talking about current affairs. It is refreshing to see how the men make time for their children and I look forward to learning more about their culture, their lives and what they hold dear to them
They Nyae Nyae conservancy is what I would refer to as a hidden treasures within Africa that very few actually experience. I say this because the dynamics within the system between man and animal is special. The conservancy accommodates wildlife, several small villages (majority comprised of the local SAN folk of Namibia) and on the outskirts livestock. On our recent visit, mapping the main roads where spoor surveys will be conducted on, we visited several of these small villages. Some larger than others but all still living in similar manners, conducting the same “day-to-day choirs” The one village in particular had some news to share with us regarding lions in the area but the main story was not about lions but more about an incident that occurred.
Several weeks prior to our visit, a young boy (we estimate the age of the child to be under 10) was sent out by his elders on a horse to search for a missing cow that roamed to far away for luxury. The day had past and there was no sign of the little boy and upon sunrise, the village decided to send out a search party when the horse returned late the previous evening without the child. The sad and cruel reality of their findings was that the young boy was found deceased several kilometers away in the bush. With their knowledge of the bush and tracks, they tried to make sense of what occurred and tried to find the answers that his family would need. The tracks suggested that whilst the boy searched for this missing cow on horseback, he found a warthog and decided to chase it down with the horse to eventually spear it in their traditional methods. The horse ran over a rocky outcrop and by their tracks left behind, it suggested that the boy lost his balance on the horse and fell to the ground whereupon the spear also entered him simultaneously.
The family managed to bury their boy after the police complied their report and had acknowledge the freak accident and our hearts go out to them. Africa is tough and it generally spits out very little compassion. It is not an easy continent to live on at times one has to adapt to Africa’s rules even if the rules are not what one is used to. The local inhabitants are generally hard folk that seldom show emotion or pain as they have come to realize that once you show weakness in Africa, she too will swallow you. Africa can be best describe at times in a similar fashion to a round of Golf. You can play 18 holes and leave the day with only one good shot played, but that one good shot makes you coming back for more.
As our journey through the Nyae Nyae begins we embrace the challenges and hope to learn from them more than anything else. We look forward to spending more time with the local SAN folk that has generations of knowledge amongst them, and give back and not take from an area that has beauty like no other.