The Hoaruseb Pride

Xpl-44 Movements Xpl-37 & 38 2008 - 2011 Eco-tourism

Chronology of observations on the Hoaruseb Pride between 2008 - 2011

2010/2011

17 Jan 2010. Purros donkeys. The recent rains produced a flush of green grass on the vast gravel plains and hills. The few remaining prey animals (oryx & springbok) that still utilised the Hoaruseb River have now also dispersed. Despite avoiding Purros for several weeks, the Hoaruseb Pride are struggling and have ventured back to Purros. They killed two donkeys during the past 48 hours. The situation is being monitored.

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18 Jan 2010. Hoaruseb lions at Purros. The lions killed a third donkey and during the daytime remained in thick vegetation just west of the Purros village.

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19 Jan 2010. Unsettle lions at Purros. As a result of the early rains and the lack of prey animals the Hoaruseb lions are continuing the kill donkeys at Purros. The problem has become more serious as several Himba farmers moved into the area with their cattle because to the green grass. It was decided to harass the lions at night, using fires and load noises, to prevent them from moving into the village and hopefully coerce them into moving away in search of prey in the hills and mountains south of the Hoaruseb. The Purros Lion Officers and Wilderness Safaris staff from Skeleton Coast Camp assisted for the efforts. At 03h30 the Hoaruseb River suddenly came down in flood. There was frantic scrambling to get all the vehicles out of the river. The Land Cruiser was badly stuck on an embankment and it required a substantial effort by all the available hands to get the vehicle out before the floodwaters reach it (photos by Monica Greeff).

Wilderness staff and the Lion Officers at 02h45
The Hoaruseb floodwaters at 03h30
The Land Cruiser escaping the floodwaters
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21 Jan 2010. Hoaruseb lions explore new habitats. With the lack of prey in their normal range, the Hoaruseb lions are starting to venture into new areas. Shortly after sundown, the two adult females killed an ostrich less than 500 metres from the Purros village. At 23h30, whilst the adult male and sub-adults were still feeding, the lionesses moved off to the north of Purros. They pursued a large herd of mountain zebras, and I lost track of them in the mountains 15 kms north of Purros.

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22 Jan 2010. Realities of living with lions. Whilst the two adult lionesses were off hunting zebras in the mountains north of Purros, the sub-adult males walked into the village and prowled around some of the houses. Despite the fear and anxiety that this incident caused amongst the Purros community, they remain willing to try and solve the problem amicably. In protection of themselves and their livelihood, the Purros community could, understandably (by any standards) and legally (by Namibian law), have retaliated and shot all the lions. This is a remarkable achievement in community-based conservation, and it was exemplified when the Chairman of the Purros Conservancy (Mr. Leon Kasupi) personally assisted with the herding >300 cattle to the river, where they had to drink less than 200 metres from where the lions were resting.

One of the houses that the lions approached
Tracks outside a hut where the children stayed
Leon Kasupi helping to water the cattle
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23 Jan 2010. Purros update. The adult male (Xpl-44 or "Leonardo") and the sub-adults moved into the Gumatum River after sundown. At 23h00 they moved north in search of the lionesses and passed through Okahirongo Elephant Lodge. The three resident fox-terriers tried to chase the lions and were very lucky to escape unhurt. The pride re-united 11 km north of Purros at 04h00 this morning. By 06h30 they were back in the Hoaruseb River. The male ("Leonardo") moved down-river, but the rest of the pride settled in thick vegetation for the day, just east of Purros.

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24 Jan 2010. Purros. Despite substantial efforts, no sleep for several days, damage to equipment and the Land Cruiser, and help from many people, all efforts have failed and the lion problem at Purros continues.

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25 Jan 2010. Purros rescue effort # 2. Another major effort was launched to solve the "Purros Lion Problem" and to try and save the lions from the inevitable fate, of being shot or poisoned, that await them were the problems to continue. The previous effort in November 2009, documented on this NEWS section, came under some criticism. The majority of the comments, however, were value judgements or uninformed opinions. But such comments are to be expected, when seen in the context of the information provided. The purpose of the NEWS section is to provide basic information on the project. It is not logistically possible to give all the necessary background information, justifications or scientific references, and it is therefore open to criticism. For the benefit of those people interested in the lions and the progress of the project, a brief account of the second rescue effort is presented here.

After discussions with the Purros Conservancy, the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, and the major local tourism operators, it was decided to dart and translocate the three lionesses, to the northern edge of the Hoanib Floodplain. They are expect to walk back to the Hoaruseb River, but their journey will take them through their usual wet-season home range, where there are currently large numbers of prey animals (oryx, zebra & springbok)..

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As a result of the disturbances caused by their regular visits to Purros and some unfortunate tourism activities (where they were chased at night with spotlights), the lionesses had become extremely skittish, and darting them was difficult. It required 74 hours, with hardly any sleep, sat in a vehicle in the heat of the day and throughout the night, but mostly, it required patience. The Purros Lion Officers were involved throughout and their commitment was impressive. Wilderness Safaris (Monica Greeff, Willie Smit, & Jan Masen, in particular) were instrumental in the process and they provided significant logistical support. Skeleton Coast Fly-in Safaris and Okahirongo Elephant Lodge (Corne de Lange) are also thanked for their help.

Darting Xpl-37 "Morado"
The three vehicles used for the translocation
Transporting the lionesses
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Transporting the lionesses to the Hoanib Floodplain, after they had been immobilised, was a tiring, albeit exciting, effort that lasted 11 hours. During the early morning hours the fog became so thick that it was very difficult to drive along the faint two-track road. At 10h30 this morning the lionesses were placed in the shade of an embankment, and by 12h30 they started exploring the surroundings.

Off-loading and monitoring the lionesses at the northern edge of the Hoanib Floodplain
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26 Jan 2010. Exploring the Floodplain. The Hoaruseb lionesses did not immediately start moving back to their home range. Instead, they spent the day exploring a small section of the Hoanib Floodplain. They probably saw more wildlife today than they did during the past few weeks in the Hoaruseb River. The Floodplain Pride (Xpl-10 is the mother of Tawny and Morado) is currently not around. The situation will be monitored closely.

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27 Jan 2010. Early success? When compared to the post-translocation behaviour of other lions, observed during similar events, the Hoaruseb lionesses moved around and explored the Floodplain surprisingly more than expected. With previous observations, lions started moving back towards their home range as soon as they had recovered from the anaesthetics.

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28 & 29 Jan 2010. Blow to Purros lion problem. Our the persistent and comprehensive efforts over the past two weeks are producing results, and have dealt a serious blow to the ongoing lion problem at Purros. It is too early to consider success, but it looks promising. The three lionesses are still on the Hoanib Floodplain and they appear comfortable in the area, which is just outside their normal home range and where there is plenty of wildlife. The two sub-adult males ("Indigo" & "Crimson) have left Purros and are moving west along the Hoaruseb River. The forced separation between them and the adult females (due to the translocation of the females) may stimulate their immanent dispersal. This would reduce the food requirements of the Hoaruseb Pride by ± 50%, and the resulting load on the lionesses.

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The training of the Purros ion Officers has been successful thus far. They have become competent in tracking and monitoring the lions, but they have also shown that they are diligent and committed to the task.

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30 Jan 2010. Relief as break in fieldwork starts. The lion problems at Purros appear to have been solved, at least for the immediate future. The lionesses are enjoying the Hoanib Floodplain and the large numbers of available prey, the adult male ("Leonardo") has moved to the lower Hoaruseb River and the two sub-adult males are still moving westwards and away from Purros. The Purros Lion Officers, with support from Skeleton Coast Camp (Wilderness Safaris), are monitoring the situation. These developments brought a great sigh of relief as fieldwork had to be interrupted for a pre-arranged fundraising and lecture trip to South Africa. During the following three weeks, regular contact will be maintained with the Lion Officers (via Wilderness Safaris) and updates on the situation will be posted here.

The two sub-adult males 8 km west of Purros
Xpl-44 near the Clay Castles
The Land Cruiser leaving the Hoaruseb River
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3 Feb 2010. Males move back to Purros. Two days ago the adult male, "Leonardo", and the sub-adult males ("Indigo" & "Crimson") joined-up and they returned to Purros during the night of 1/2 Feb 2010. The Purros Lion Officers were monitoring the situation on 1 & 2 Feb 2010, and Wilderness Safaris (Jan Masen & Gotlob Hawaxab spent the night of 2/3 Feb 2010 making sure that the lions do not enter the village. Data received from the satellite collar of the adult male (Xpl-44), showed that he left the Purros area at 07:00 on 2 Feb 2010 and move westwards along the Hoaruseb River (see map). By 08:00 on 3 Feb 2010, he was close to the border of the Skeleton Coast Park. The lionesses have not yet returned, and we believe that they are still on the Hoanib Floodplain.

 

 

The movements of Xl-44 "Leonardo" between 2 and 3 Feb 2010.

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22 Mar 2010. Confusion in the Hoaruseb. The search for Xpl-10 & the Hoaruseb lions continued throughout the night. Hundreds of square kilometres were covered systematically north of the Hoanib River, between Okongwe and Ganias. The Hoaruseb River was reached at midnight. Fresh lion tracks, moving downstream from Leyland's Drift were spotted. Recent flooding left the Hoaruseb River very muddy and driving along the river was difficult. The lion tracks were followed all the way to the coast, but no radio signals were heard (the telemetry equipment were checked and appeared to be working). The location of the lions was eventually pinned-down, based purely on following their tracks, to a thicket about 5 km from the coast. At dusk a male lion was observed briefly and a bit later the roar of a male lion was heard from the same location.

23 Mar 2010. Dart Xpl-44. During the night it was confirmed that the satellite GPS collar of "Leonardo" had stopped working, and that he was the only lion present. There were tracks of two lionesses (most likely Xpl-37 & Xpl-38), but it appears that they moved into the dunes (towards the south) a couple of days ago. Between 01h00 and 03h00, Leonardo moved to the coast, probably in search of the females, and returned by early morning. At 23h00 this evening, "Leonardo" was darted and his faulty collar was replaced with a new satellite GPS collar.

24 Mar 2010. Faulty telemetry receiver. Xpl-44 recovered well from the immobilisation and moved up-river, towards Clay Castles, during the early morning hours. He is currently resting in a thicket. After many hours of testing, it has just been confirmed that the telemetry receiver is faulty. But the problem appears inconsistent, which is the worst kind of technical glitch to experience in the field - because it is so difficult to isolate the problem with limited resources. Notwithstanding, this means that the long search and efforts to try and locate Xpl-10 must be repeated. A telemetry receiver that is in good working order must first be located.

27 Mar 2010. Sea of Sand. All the efforts over the past few days & nights to locate the Hoaruseb lionesses (Tawny & Morado) have produced no results. Their wind-blown tracks were spotted a few times and it is suspected that they have moved into the dunes, south of the Hoaruseb River, in search of prey, or to give birth. As cubs they use to spend a lot of time with their mother (Xpl-10) in this area, which is not accessible by vehicle. The colour photograph was taken this afternoon, while monitoring the area for radio telemetry signals. The b&w image is a satellite photo of a section of the dunes, 18 km south of the point where the colour photo was taken. The blue circles indicate where Xpl-10 and her cubs were located (by aerial radio tracking) in 2005/6, and the red cross is the place where Xpl-10 gave birth to her first litter.

28 Mar 2010. Xpl-44. During the past 48 hours the Hoaruseb male (Leonardo) moved from Leyland's Drift to Purros, killed a donkey near the Community Campsite, continued along the Hoaruseb River for another 12 km, then he turned around and came all the way back downriver. He moved past the narrow gorge (the Poort) earlier this evening. He walked a minimum of 43 km during this period.

26 Apr 2010. Hoaruseb male shot. In sharp contrast with the outstanding conservation achievements made in the Purros Conservancy in relation to lions over the past three years (such as the acceptance of the Purros community towards the lions, their tolerance of the livestock losses at the end of 2009 and their efforts to protect the Hoaruseb lions because of the high tourism value of the lions), the Hoaruseb male (Xpl-44 or "Leonardo") was shot for trophy hunting in the Sesfontein Conservancy. Xpl-44 was marked with a satellite GPS collar on 23 Mar 2010 (photo - bottom left). He moved beyond the imaginary boundary of the Purros Conservancy on 21 Apr 2010 (into the Sesfontein Conservancy) and was shot in the southern section of the Okongwe area (red dots on left side of map - upper left photo). The satellite collar then moved rapidly to a hunting camp near Sesfontein, where it remained stationary (red dots on right side of map). This development is a blow, not only to community-based conservation in Purros, but also to tourism in the region and to the lion population. The continuous shooting of adult males is unsustainable.

29 Apr 2010. Hoaruseb male. An accurate real-time animation of the last seven days of Xpl-44's life (below) reveals the unfortunate and regrettable circumstances under which he was shot. For the past three years Xpl-44 "Leonardo" lived inside the Purros Conservancy (see red lines on left of map, depicting the Minimum Convex Polygon & Spider Analysis of his home range). The boundary between the Purros and Sesfontein Conservancies is presented by the white lines. Click on the PLAY button to start the animation (which runs at 5 seconds per day) and the movements of Xpl-44 is represented by the blue dot. During the night of the 19th April 2010 (19/4 pm) Xpl-44 moved rapidly south, into the Sesfontein Conservancy, to a bait. The speed and directness of his movements suggests that he might have been called by sound playbacks. He remain at the bait until the morning of 21 April 2010. The mortality sensor inside his satellite GPS collar was activated later in the day, and it is estimated that he was shot between 07 - 09h00 (subject to error). By 14h00 the satellite collar was transmitting it's position from a hunting camp 6 km north-east of Sesfontein.

30 Apr 2010. More on Xpl-44. A detailed spoor re-construction at the place where the Hoaruseb male (Leonardo) was shot, revealed new information and a better understanding of the sequence of events. The hypothesis mentioned yesterday, that the lion may have been baited and attracted with sound playbacks, can now be ruled out. It appears that the hunters came across Xpl-44 by chance. Lionesses of the Hoanib Pride ("Bianca" & co.) killed an oryx on the north-facing slope of a mountain during the night of 19 Apr 2010. It is likely that Xpl-44 heard the commotion and moved rapidly down a long valley to join the lionesses on the kill. Xpl-44 then dragged the oryx carcass for 775 metres to a small cave (see photos below).

The drag trail from where the oryx was killed to the cave (circle)
The cave where Xpl-44 was shot

The drag trail left distinct markings in the soft soil and it crossed the main track from Okongwe to Giribis. The spoor reconstruction suggests that the hunters spotted the trail and located Xpl-44 in the cave with the oryx carcass. The evidence also suggests that Xpl-44 was shot from a vehicle at a distance of <100 metres, that the shot was accurate and that he died at the cave. The fact that Xpl-44 was habituated to vehicles - tourism vehicles that regularly approached and viewed him in the Hoaruseb River - made him vulnerable and he was shot with relative ease. An investigation into the incident, involving the Namibian Ministry of Environment & Tourism, the relevant communal conservancies, the hunting fraternities and several NGO's is in motion.

 
The drag marks crossing the track between Okongwe & Giribis
 

1 May 2010. Male lions. The shooting of adult male lions in the Namibian desert population over the past few years has been excessive and unsustainable. This has led to a significantly skewed sex ratio amongst adults and associated problems in the social structure of the lions. During the past three years, two adult males (Xpl-3 "Adolf" & Xpl-44 "Leonardo") controlled the northern section of the desert lion's range (the Hoanib & Hoaruseb Rivers). The home ranges of these lions are presented below: Hoaruseb Pride - red, Floodplain Pride - blue, Hoanib Pride - yellow, Xpl-3 [Hoanib Male] - white, Xpl-44 [Hoaruseb Male] - black). Both adult males were recently shot: Xpl-3 in Nov 2009 and Xpl-44 a few days ago. This leaves the entire area - three prides and a total of 27 adult females and sub-adults - without a single adult male. With the excessive shooting of adult males further south in the Torra Conservancy area over the past few years (documented in previous reports), there are very few available adult males to fill the void.

1 May 2010. Clarification. An article in the Namibian press quoted information and photos directly from this website regarding the shooting of Xpl-44 "Leonardo", but erroneously stated that it originated from "Conservation Safaris Namibia" and that I (P Stander) worked for, or is associated with, Conservation Safaris Namibia. This is not the case. I run the Desert Lion Conservation project. It is an autonomous initiative and all the information presented on this website is a product of this project. The work and research associated with this project is not for profit, and the information & photographs posted on this site is available free of charge. It is dedicated entirely to the conservation of the desert lions.

5 May 2010. Leonardo - mortality & sex ratios. In support of the statement made on 1 May 2010, data are presented here on the causes of mortality for the Desert Lion population between 2001 & 2007 (top left graph) and that of the Hoanib/Hoaruseb lions between 2007 & 2010. Trophy hunting and the shooting of lions by local people is the major cause of mortality amongst adult and sub-adult lions. The indiscriminate selection for male lions for trophy hunting has resulted in an alarming decline in the ratio of adult males to adult females. Amongst the northern lions (Hoanib/Hoaruseb) the recent shooting of Xpl-3 and Xpl-44 has left the population without any adult males (sex ratio = 1 female: 0 male, N [sample size] = 12).

Leonardo's Satellite Collar

Efforts to retrieve Leonardo's satellite GPS collar from the hunter have thus far failed. The collar is still transmitting daily locations from the hunting camp north-west of Sesfontein. This is frustrating because the direct costs of the collar transmitting useless data is N$103.80 (US$15.50) per day. Since Leonardo was shot, the running of the satellite collar has cost the project N$1455 (US$ 195).

6 May 2010. Leonardo - history. Xpl-44 was born in the upper Barab/Kharakaub area in July 2003. His mother was either Xpl-9 or Xpl-11 and his farther was probably Xpl-1. In July 2007 he dispersed to the Hoaruseb River and he was first darted and radio collared on 1 Aug 2007. He settled with the Hoaruseb Pride and remained there as the resident pride male until he was shot on 21 April 2010.

Apr 2004 - 9 months Sep 2007 - 4.2 years Sep 2008 - 5.2 years Mar 2010 - 6.7 years

7 May 2010. Tribute to Leonardo. A few days ago The Namibian, a local newspaper, published a report on the shooting of Xpl-44. The public can submit comments (via SMS) on the articles published. These comments appear in a section called "Responses on issues of the Day". The following comment was sent in by (presumably) a resident from the Sesfontein Conservancy.

"The hunting permits of all professional hunters especially in communal conservancies must be reviewed to avoid accidental deaths of beloved wild animals like Leonardo which have brought us lots of revenue, employment, development and more. Rest in peace Leonardo, your roar is no more. Please Mr Keith, be kind-hearted and re-invest the 60 per cent of income which you will earn from his skin directly to the community from those conservancies. Elias Amxab School needs assistance." From Lesley Ubiteb.

8 May 2010. Leonardo's satellite collar. The satellite GPS collar suddenly stopped transmitting on 5 May 2010. The last location was recorded at 00h00 on 5 May 2010. The collar was then either destroyed or moved indoors. Our efforts to locate the collar has not been successful.

24 May 2010. Annual Research Report for 2010.

 

During the past five days, research data collected over the past eleven years were analysed to asses the impact of trophy hunting, and the shooting of male lions, on the Desert lion population.

The results were compiled in a report entitled: "The impact of male-biased mortality on the population structure of desert-adapted lions in Namibia".

Details of the report can be viewed under Research Report - 2010.

Or it can be downloaded as a PDF file (705 Kb).

25 May 2010. Leonardo's satellite collar. Many avenues have been used in an attempt to retrieve (or at least to have it switched off) the expensive satellite GPS radio collar of Xpl-44 "Leonardo", after he was shot for trophy hunting on 21 April 2010. The collar stopped transmitting positions via satellite on 5 May 2010, but resumed communications again on 14 May 2010. The transmissions have continued, albeit irregular, and it is still at the hunting camp near Sesfontein. The costs of lost battery power and the pointless satellite transmissions by the collar since Xpl-44 was shot, have now amounted to N$ 3633 (US$ 543).

7 July 2010. "Leonardo". There are new developments regarding the shooting of the Hoaruseb male (Xpl-44) and his expensive satellite GPS collar, which is still at large. An update will be posted soon.

9 July 2010. Lion's satellite collar goes to town. Efforts to have the expensive satellite GPS collar of "Leonardo" (Xpl-44) returned, or even to have it turned off, after he was shot on 21 April 2010, have failed. After being stationary for 47 days, the satellite collar suddenly became active. It found its way to Opuwo (a town in the north-west of Namibia) on the evening of 6 July 2010. It was presumably driven there by vehicle. The collar spent the night in the town - until 08h00 the next morning (7 July; see bottom left photo). It then arrived in Windhoek later the same day (20h01) and it moved around a bit in the north western part of Windhoek, where it also spent the night (see photos: 3rd & 4th from left). The following morning (8 July 2010, 09h00) it travelled south along a major road (photo: far right).

17 July 2010. Hoaruseb lions. The Hoaruseb River is still very wet and it is not yet possible to drive along the section west of Leyland's Drift. This complicates searching for the Hoaruseb lions. However, the spoor of two lionesses were found near Leyland's Drift. The tracks are heading into the dunes towards the south-west and are being followed with the hopes of finding the lions.

22 July 2010. Tawny & Morado. For the first time in many months the Hoaruseb lionesses (Xpl-37 & 38) moved west and beyond the part of the Hoaruseb River that is still inaccessible after the rains. When first located the two lionesses approached the Land Cruiser (to within 10 metres), walked around the vehicle, and then lay down beside it. They are in good condition, but they have not eaten well for several days.

23 July 2010. Morada. The name for Xpl-37 came from the Spanish word for the colour purple. A guest of Wilderness Safaris, Mr Jose Augusto Siluan from Colombia, pointed out that her name should in fact be "Morada" (because of the gender). Tawny and Morada hunted actively all night and they killed an adult male oryx at 04h35 this morning. True to her character, Morada was intolerant of crows and jackals and spent most of the day keeping them away from the carcass.

24 July 2010. Jackals & crows. Observations on the two Hoaruseb lionesses continued. Xpl-37's dislike of jackals and crows, and the energy she spends on chasing them away from the carcass, is in stark contrast with that of her sister (Xpl-38, "Tawny"), who takes no notice of them. Both lionesses need to be immobilised to replace their fading radio collars. It was decided not to disturb them now and to delay the exercise by another week or two.

25 July 2010. Huaruseb dunes. During the past few days the two lionesses (Tawny & Morada) moved through spectacular terrain and scenery amongst the dunes of the lower Hoaruseb River. To view the picture below; start by moving your mouse over the top left corner.

26 July 2010. Oryx. The two Hoaruseb lionesses (Tawny & Morada) killed another adult oryx at the lower gorge in the Hoaruseb River. The red circle (middle photo) indicates the place where the oryx was captured.

27 July 2010. South to Floodplain. With the Hoaruseb lionesses still feeding on the oryx carcass, efforts were turned to the Hoanib. Xpl-10 & the Floodplain lions were observed south-east of Ganias Spring.

28 Aug 2010. Tawny & Morada. The two Hoaruseb lionesses (Xpl-37 & 38, better known as Morada & Tawny), were located in the Hoasruseb River, about 5 km from the sea. There is a strong possibility that the lions that were observed east of Leyland's Drift during the past two weeks were not Tawny & Morada, but Hoanib lions. This will be investigated during the next few days. Both Hoaruseb lionesses were immobilised this evening. A GPS collar was fitted to Morada (Xpl-37) and the VHF collar of Tawny (Xpl-38) was replaced. The Holder family and Wilderness Staff, based at Khumib Camp, assisted with the dartings.

13 Sep 2010. Hoaruseb lions. Following reports of an unknown lion in the Hoaruseb River, the radio-collared lions were located east of Leyland's Drift. The "unknown" lion turned out to be "Maya" (Xpl-61). Her radio collar had failed and is not transmitting a signal. Due to the difficult terrain, efforts to dart her and replace the faulty collar have failed. A field guide was developed for the Zeiss telescope to estimate darting range (see Logistics/Methods).

14 Sep 2010. Reeds. At sunrise the Hoaruseb lionesses captured an oryx and dragged the carcass into a thick reed-bed. The darting of "Maya" will have to be postponed until they move to more open habitat. A rare sighting was made of a porcupine scrambling amongst the rocks early this morning.

15 Sep 2010. Leonardo's collar. The satellite GPS collar of Xpl-44 ("Leonardo") has been confiscated by the Protected Resource Unit of the Namibian Police and is currently in Windhoek. The Chief Inspector of the PRU informed us that they intend using the collar as evidence in a pending court case, and that the collar will be returned to the Desert Lion Project afterwards. Pierre du Preez and Piet Beytell of the Ministry of Environment & Tourism are thanked for liaising with the PRU and for switching the collar off.

12 Nov 2010. Hoaruseb. Efforts are underway to locate the Hoaruseb Pride. The young lioness (Xpl-61, "Maya") needs to be darted to replace her radio collar. During the recent visit by the Land Cruiser Club of Southern Africa, Mr Jan Slabber donated to the Project a special devise he designed using the blade of a plough - it functions as a base-plate when the vehicle needs to be jacked-up in soft sand or mud (see Sponsors). The devise was used to great success yesterday when the Land Cruiser got bogged-down in the dunes (photos: far right by E Verwey).

13 Nov 2010. Dart Xpl-61. The young Hoaruseb lioness ("Maya") was darted this evening and her broken radio collar was replaced. This was the first darting where the new sound system and the new Dan-inject dart gun (donated by the Holder family - 8 Oct 2010) was used. Wilderness Safaris staff from Skeleton Coast Camp assisted with the event.

10/11 Jul 2011. Hoaruseb Pride poisoned. The Desert lions suffered a big blow when the entire Hoaruseb Pride was poisoned on 10 July 2011. The three lionesses (Xpl-37 "Morada", Xpl-38 "Tawny" and Xpl-61 "Maya") died a few metres from each other in the Hoaruseb River. Samples were collected for analysis, but the poison appears to have been strychnine.Two black-backed jackals were also found dead at the scene. The radio collars were retrieved and the sculls of all three lionesses were collected. Their carcasses and those of the jackals were then burnt to prevent more animals dying from the poison. Wilderness Safaris are thanked for their help and support. This tragic event marks the end of the famous Hoaruseb lions. More detailed reports will follow. (Photos by E Verwey)

12 Jul 2011. Setback. The poisoning of the three Hoaruseb lionesses is a serious setback for lion conservation, community-based conservation and tourism in the region. The efforts over the past five years by the Purros Conservancy, the tourism industry (e.g., Wilderness Safaris, Kunene Conservancy Safaris, Okahirongo Elephant Lodge and many others) and conservation organisations to conserve the Hoaruseb lions and develop sustainable tourism activities, were enormous. But, in the end, the efforts were not enough. In April 2010, the Hoaruseb Pride consisted of an adult male (Xpl-44 "Leonardo"), two adult females (Xpl-37 "Morada" & Xpl-38 "Tawny"), a sub-adult female (Xpl-61 "Maya") and two sub-adult males (Xpl-62 "Indigo" & Xpl-63 "Crimson"). All three males were shot during 2010 and the pride was finally eradicated with the poisoning of the three remaining lionesses.

"Morada" and "Leonardo"
"Morada", "Maya" & the two young males
Xpl-38 "Tawny" at the Hoaruseb mouth
The end of an era