Lion research in Nyae Nyae conservancy, Namibia

“The lion is almost gone, but the same counts for my people. I will become a Wildlife shepherd, I will protect them from extinction and they will do the same for my culture.”
       - Dam Debe

The world as we know it is rapidly changing as she does what she can to adapt to life on earth. 7 BILLION people all trying to survive and making a living. Life itself is becoming faster and faster as we all try and adapt and stay afloat each day. In an age where we see so many animals nearing extinction it is a wonder that we still find new species every year.

The Ju/´Hoasi (San folk, also know as “bushman”) of Namibia have been on earth for decades and although they have witnessed multiple cultures come and go in their small world, they have noticed changes in their own personal environment. Their world is also changing and although it may not change as fast as the modern world, they too have seen a change. Their culture; trail and tested through the decades of modernization and falling behind each day. They posses specific skills that are not used as much in the modern world and are well and truly struggling to adapt and evolve with this planet.  

      “The establishment, management, and monitoring of protected areas should take place with the full and effective participation and the full respect for:
the rights of indigenous and local communities. Communities are the key to sustainability”
      - Aleksandra Orbeck - Nilssen

One could say that there are similarities between them and lions as both parties struggle for survival and acceptance by so many. The question remains if one can help the other and whether their skills and knowledge of the bush can provide a safe haven for these magnificent cats that are dwindling rapidly each da. Can these last remaining lions of the Nyae Nyae conservancy be the opportunity for the San to showcase their skills and be tested to the highest level. Both equally remarkable in their own way and equipped with the best indigenous tools known to man kind, surviving each day in harsh conditions where most would faulter. Conservation and protection of both so to speak as they journey together through a world that challenging their very exhistance without the world actually realizing or taking note.

Livestock was introduced in the late 80’s and 90’s and as a relatively new concept to them (as they were always nomadic folk) and with time had to learn how to deal with carnivores approaching their villages searching for food.  We recently completed a questionnaire to a large sample size of the the community that reside in the Nyae Nyae conservancy and the aim and objective was simple:

1.      Determine if there are any large carnivores still present in these remote areas.
2.      Establish the peoples tollerance and acceptance of these species.
3.      If human wildlife conflict is present, where, how and when does it take place and which carnivore is mostly responsible.
4.      Are the people concerned about the loss of their wildlife and do they want to work with us to create a better environment for wildlife roaming through.
5.      What are the main challengees they face regarding wildlife and then develop mitigation methods on how to avoid conflict.
6.      Do they want to preserve their own species and avoid extinction.

The overall results from this survey was positive as many people do care about wildlife and would like to see tourism increase with their area. It was obvious through the questionnaire that the younger generation felt lost (similar to most of the westernized folk) and would like to get back to learning more about wildlife conservation. This has led us to our next stage of the project where we would like to slowly start developing a research centre on a small scale that can accommodate several younger generation of the Ju/´Hoasi where they will learn each day about wildlife, research and data collection etc. in conjunction with the Ju/´Hoasi San communities. Providing training, conservation awareness, work creation, enhancing livelihoods for indigenous people and communities within conservation areas. Together we strive to inspire a new movement, where ancient knowledge becomes a modern work opportunity, a way to protect wildlife and revive a dying culture. 

To get to this stage we have identified our main tracker/manager called Dam Debe, a mature and well-educated man that will lead this small team. He is extremely eager to get started with his wife and children ready to move to a new site that has to be worked on and developed. The conservancy board has given us a section of land and have asked us to develop a centre that would assist the western community of the Nyae Nyae as they have lacked possibilities through other initiatives in the past. 

      "Seeing and experiencing lions in the wild is becoming a rare sighting. If we do not act now, they will disappear in silence due to poaching, human wildlife conflict and poisoning. Meeting the Ju/´Hoasi San, a people that still have a culture and stories to tell that are not polluted by all the noise of the modern world, awakens something in us. They introduce us to an authenticity that makes us feel a part of something greater then ourselves. The lions are here to teach us  that each living thing is a s precious and vulnerable, and the San are here to show us how we can ensure the sustainability of all living things."

Funding is always required for the start up and we require funding urgently to keep the current mobility of the project moving forward, constantly have presence on the ground and be able to continue collecting data on carnivores and large herbivores as we start to move into the next phase.  Funds are needed for the following:

-      Fuel
-      A monthly remuneration for Dam Debe (scout manager)
-      Building material for the research centre
-      Temperary employees to assist with building (local women will be used to assist as well)
-      GPS handset/s for data collection  X 2(old one has seen it’s last days)
-      Batteries
-      Cellphone credit (as we beging to utilize one person per village to send us information once predators moves through their land)
-      Food allocation
-      Off road tyres X 2 (we wrote off three in two months due to the harsh terrain)
-      Administration expenses

Long term goal:

What is the solution?

Ancient nature knowledge and skills, married with modern tech, research and monitoring
A Sustainable Big Brother Conservation surveillance system for nature

Ensure the biodiversity and protection of key predator species, and empower indigenous people to help and empower themselves by helping nature.

If any of you are able to assist with donations, however big or small, we truly appeciate your generous support in helping us work together to conserve this magnificent area.

Team n!are| ‘an a|’ae (To protect for tomorrow) NAMIBIA
@Walkingforlions @Nanofasa @NikelaWildlife @Aswildas @Olandsdjurpark

More Information about Walking for Lions can be found here:



  • Constance Ørbeck-Nilssen 
    • €100 
    • 31 mos
  • Pierre Stine 
    • €500 
    • 31 mos
  • Ane Sommerstad  
    • €100 
    • 31 mos
  • Sophie Strobele 
    • €400 
    • 31 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • €100 
    • 31 mos
See all


Andreas Gilb 
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