Thursday, February 11, 2010

Namibia: Professional hunter, farmer charged with illegal lion hunt

Jana-Mari Smith

11 February 2010
The Namibian

A REGISTERED professional hunter and a farm owner were arrested this week on charges of staging an illegal lion hunt on a farm situated next to the Etosha National Park.

The Tsumeb Magistrate's office confirmed to The Namibian that Gert van der Walt, a registered professional hunter, was charged yesterday with the illegal hunt of a protected animal and hunting with an artificial light at night. The alleged hunt is believed to have taken place in January, which is outside the legal hunting and trophy-hunting season.

The same charges were brought against Lood Heydenryck, the owner of farm Leeudrink. Both were released on bail of N$500 yesterday and the case was postponed to April 27.

Sources claim that Van der Walt, together with another man, arrived on Leeudrink in January and allegedly hunted lions and other game.

The charges laid against them are based on reports that they wounded a lion during the hunt but were unable to locate the animal afterwards.

Farmers who spoke to The Namibian said a wounded lion is a potentially dangerous animal, which can act unpredictably. They said the usual practice is to inform surrounding farmers that a wounded animal is on the loose, but this was probably not done because it was an illegal hunt.

Van der Walt, a NAPHA-registered professional hunter, denied all charges against him.

"They accused me of wounding a lion but there is no evidence supporting this," he told The Namibian yesterday.

He claimed he was being falsely accused and said he intended to lay counter-charges against his accusers.

He admitted that he was on the farm Leeudrink in January, but not for hunting.

In addition to the illegal hunting charges, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET) fined Heydenryck N$300 last week for the illegal sale of game meat. The buyer, Sig Agenbag, was fined N$600 for the illegal purchase and transport of game meat.

Sources at the Ministry told The Namibian that a permit must be obtained for a lion hunt, as the animal is a protected species. They also confirmed that although farmers may shoot a "problem animal" or a lion that presents immediate danger, the kill has to be reported to the Ministry within 10 days.


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