Satellite Collars – Daily Movement Updates

Daily updates on the movements of lions fitted with satellite collars aims to provide up-to-date information to the local communities and the tourism industry. Communal Conservancies, with access to the Internet, can monitor the movements of lions and manage incidents of Human Lion Conflict by alerting local livestock farmers when lions move towards settlements. The information also benefits the tourism industry by increasing the likelihood of locating and viewing lions, and thus promoting the tourism potential and value of lions in the region. These benefits are believed to promote the conservation of the species.

On two occasions during the past three months the Movement Updates were removed from the website after evidence came to light that the information was misused. Since its inception in Nov 2012, monitoring systems and reliable reports have confirmed several incidents that include: a) an attempt to shoot lions that were not near human settlements or causing problems, b) tourists harassing lions, c) tourists driving off-roads and leaving vehicle tracks in sensitive terrain, and d) tourists illegally entering the Skeleton Coast Park in an effort to find lions.

A recent attempt to regulate access to the movement data by introducing a password-based structure was abandoned because many Namibians, including the local conservancies, rely on poor Internet connections to view the Desert Lion website and the introduction of a regulatory system will hamper their ability to access the information. In addition, the Desert Lion website strives to provide regular and accurate information on the ecology of the Desert Lion population that is free and easily accessible. Limited and/or controlled access to this information will compromise the value of the website that attracts >5,000 views per month, mostly by regular visitors from all over the world (see News – 25 May 2013). It seems unfair to deprive thousands of interested and responsible individuals free and easy access to the information just because of a handful of people that may misuse it

A Plea for Respect ! The daily movement data of lions will now continue. A request is made that the information be used responsibly and with respect to the lions and the environment.

The movements of eight lions (see below) will be updated every day to indicate their locations at sunrise.

There is currently a software problem with the Iridium transceivers of all the satellite collars purchased before May 2013 that result in failure to send or receive SBD messages. Movement data are lost when the collars occasionally fail to establish a connection with the Iridium satellites. The collars worked perfectly when they were fitted to the lions, but the problems started after an apparent software upgrade to the Iridium satellites. These satellite collars must now be removed from the lions and they must be returned to the manufacturers to have the software upgraded. This is a major setback to the research. When the most recent location is not available, the date & time of the last recorded position is listed followed by the word **Offline**

Agab Pride Huab Pride Hoanib/Okongwe Pride Hunkap Pride The Terrace Male The Dorob Male
Xpl-36 "Monica" Xpl-75 Xpl-73 "Rosh" Xpl-53 "Charlotte" Xpl-68 Xpl-77 - DEAD
  Xpl-70 Xpl-81 "Kebbel"  

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Lion Prides & GPS Radio Collars

The lion prides, sub-groups and individuals fitted with GPS collars are divided into nine areas. This division is based on lion grouping patterns and movements during the past 12-15 years, habitat and the ephemeral rivers.

Agab River
Aub River
Hoanib Floodplain
Hoanib River
Hobatere
Hoaruseb River
Hunkap River
Obab River
Ugab River

The map below indicates the approximate areas of the nine main groups of lions.

Through several generous donations GPS and satellite GPS radio collars were bought from Followit in Sweden. The GPS collars were earmarked for specific individual lions in order to collect important data on Human Lion Conflict, lion eco-tourism and behaviour ecology. Real-time animations of the movements of these lions can be viewed under each pride. The 2009 Research Report presents an analysis of GPS collar data.

Followit supplied two types of GPS collars. One with "Tellus Remote Satellite Download" and the rest with "Tellus Remote UHF Download".

The Satellite GPS collar was programmed to record eleven position co-ordinates (fixes) per day. At the end of each day the collar transfers the fixes to the Televilt server in Sweden via the commercial satellite communications network and an email, with the GPS fixes, is sent to the Desert Lion server.

The GPS collars with Tellus Remote UHF Download option were programmed to record position co-ordinates more frequently. Due to different conservation/ecological questions relevant to the different prides, two sampling regimes were designed. Under the first design, GPS collars were programmed to record GPS fixes every hour throughout the 24-hour day. The second design records GPS fixes every 15 minutes during the period of activity (night), every 30 minutes during the period of intermediate activity, and every hour for the remainder of the day when lions are inactive. The data stored in the GPS collar can be downloaded from a distance of approximately 1 kilometre. This is done by establishing a communications link in the field between a laptop computer and the GPS collar using a UHF terminal and software supplied by Televilt. The remote download attempts have thus far been successful.