Windhoek - The last remaining member of an iconic pride of desert lions in the Namib has been translocated nearly 300km from where his brothers were poisoned and burnt last week, the conservation group that has been monitoring and protecting the five-strong male pride says.
"Tullamore" was kept sedated for more than 14 hours and transported from the Tomakas area to the mouth of the Uniab river, 279km away, where it's hoped he'll have a better chance of survival, according to the Desert Lion Conservation Trust.
Sadly, preparations were already being made to translocate Tullamore's three brothers when their carcasses were found burnt along with their satellite collars on August 9. They had been part of the five-strong "Musketeers" who were the subjects of a documentary called "Vanishing Kings".
"Harry", a fourth member of the pride, was shot dead in June.
Those behind last week's poisoning, near Tomakas village in the Gomatum valley, "will face the full wrath of the law", Namibia's ministry of environment and tourism said in a statement.
'They will be greatly missed'
There has long been conflict between villagers and the lions which prey on their livestock in the area.
The Desert Lion Conservation Trust, founded by Philip Stander, had tried to protect both the Five Musketeers and the villagers and their animals, training and equipping a local farmer to act as lion guardian and encouraging farmers to kraal their cattle at night and keep them away from where the lions rested during the day.
But, according to a statement from the trust, the battle was never going to be won easily. "After the first unfortunate incident, where one of the Musketeers was shot and three others injured, the conflict didn’t come to an end. For several understandable reasons, the four Musketeers remained in the conflict area and eventually the situation became unmanageable," it said.
The trust said on Facebook that the lions had killed a donkey "at a new and previously-unknown cattle post" and villagers had retaliated.
"They will be greatly missed by many," the trust said.
Followers of the pride have taken to Facebook to express their sadness over the killings and their hopes for Tullamore.
"Life in the desert is going to be tough for him without his brothers," wrote Norberto Dello.
Pam Curtis wrote: "My heart cries out to him... stay safe, stay strong and know how many people are praying and care for you. Tullamore hang in there my boy...".
The Five Musketeers' father was also a victim of human-wildlife conflict.