Overfishing and the 1993–94 outbreak of ‘red tide’ along the Skeleton Coast have decimated the sea lion population, both through starvation and commercially inspired culling. Also, the poaching of desert rhinos, elephants and other Damaraland species has caused their numbers to decrease, and the desert lion, which once roamed the Skeleton Coast, is now considered extinct.
For the rest of Namibia’s lions, survival is also precarious. From a high of 700 animals in 1980, the number has now decreased to between 320 and 340. Of these, nearly 85% are confined to Etosha National Park and Khaudom Game Reserve. One problem is that reserve fences are penetrable, and once the lions have left protected areas, it’s only a matter of time before they’re shot by ranchers to protect cattle.
The stability of other bird and plant species, such as the lichen fields, the welwitschia plant, the Damara tern, the Cape vulture, and numerous lesser-known species, has been undoubtedly compromised by human activities (including tourism and recreation) in formerly remote areas.