NEWS 2006 (Aug - Dec)

28 December 2006: New research camp at the Hoaruseb River / BBC complete filming.

A new base camp was erected on the banks of the Hoaruseb River
Owen Newman & Amanda Barrett complete filming

22 December 2006: Monitoring of lions in the Hoaruseb River intensifies.

Between 5 September and 22 December 2006, data were collected on movements patterns, behaviour ecology, predation, and the impact of tourist vehicles on the lions during 89 days of observation. In addition, lions were followed and watched continuously, over a 24-hour cycle (day & night), using night-vision goggles at night, on 22 occasions. During these extended follows, detailed data were collected on hunting behaviour and habitat use. When lions rested in the ephemeral riverbeds during the day, the frequency of tourist vehicles driving past them, and the impact of these vehicles on their behaviour, was recorded. These data will be analysed during January 2007 to aid the development of eco-tourism products.

The BBC filming lions during the day Following lions with night-vision goggles
Lioness (Xpl-37) moving over rocks Tourists watching lions in the late afternoon

9 November 2006: More on the donkeys.

The Purros Conservancy decided not to retaliate against the lions for killing three donkeys. It was agreed that the donkeys should not have moved that far west and into the area frequented by the lions. Notwithstanding, there remains a need for better protection of their livestock. The Purros Conservancy should be applaud by the conservation community for their progressive approach to HWC.

1 November 2006: Hoaruseb lions kill donkeys.

After two weeks of intensive observations on the Hoaruseb lions, the two sub-adult lionesses (Xpl-37 & her sister) encountered a group of donkeys (photo taken two days prior) in the Hoaruseb River, that belong to members of the Purros Conservancy. The lionesses killed three of the donkeys. We informed the Purros Conservancy of the incident. By law, the owner of the donkeys may shoot the lions to protect his/her livelihood. Such an action would seriously compromise the Lion Eco-Tourism Project and the potential benefits to the Purros Conservancy. However, an incident of Human-Lion Conflict, such as this, result in direct financial losses to the owner.

31 October 2006: Nocturnal behaviour of Desert lions.

The hunting behaviour of the desert-adapted lions have not previously been studied. To collect baseline data for the Eco-Tourism Project, and with the help of the BBC film team, detailed behavioural observations on the Hoaruseb lions were started on 16 October 2006. Using techniques developed during his studies on Etosha lions in the 1980s, Flip Stander has been observing the lions at night with night-vision equipment to record activity patterns, movements, and hunting behaviour. A small sample of nine nights of observation has already produced interesting findings. These preliminary results suggest that the desert lions hunt communally with an advanced level of coordinated cooperation, similar to the Etosha lions (Stander, P. 1992. Cooperative hunting in lions: the role of the individual. Behaviour Ecology & Sociobiology 29: 445-454. Download PDF file, where individual lionesses repeatedly occupy the same position in the hunting formation. Although the current data set is small it would appear that the desert lions may have developed communal hunting techniques more advanced than those recorded for lions in Etosha.

Tracking lions with a modified telemetry device An elephant passing through the Hoaruseb Poort
Xpl-37 pulling down an oryx at dawn Lioness feeding on a fresh oryx carcass

25 October 2006: Hoaruseb lions.

The Lion Eco-Tourism Project was launched in the Purros Conservancy. Intensive monitoring of the Hoaruseb lions has involved 24-hour monitoring cycles with Flip Stander following the lions at night, and Amanda Barrett & Owen Newman (the BBC Natural History film team) watching over the lions during the day. Pieter de Wet and Ernst Karutjaiva, of the Okahirongo Elephant Lodge and Purros Conservancy, respectively, accompanied Flip Stander on a two-day field trip tracking the radio-collared lions south of the Hoaruseb River.

Xpl-37 and her sister south of the Hoaruseb Giraffe on the Ganais plains at dawn
E-mails using a RBGAN satellite IP modem Pieter de Wet, Ernst Karutjaiva, & Flip Stander

8 October 2006: Recent Images captured during field work.

4-30 September 2006: Lions on the beach.

The good rains over the past few years and increasing wildlife numbers have seen to an upsurge in the lion population. Lion numbers have not only increased but lions have also dispersed and expanded to some parts of their former range. During the past month three groups of lions have moved to the coast; an adult male moved down the Khumib River, past Sarusas spring, two adult females were at the mouth of Hoaruseb River, and another adult male walked along the beach at the Huab lagoon, where he was found feeding on a seal. These fascinating developments have spurred us to examine and summarise the old records and observations of lions in the Skeleton Coast Park (1970-1995). We have already spent some time at Möwe Bay with John Patterson (MET), going through the databases and all the old “punch cards”. The coastal lions have being monitored closely for the past month.

13-30 August 2006: Wildlife Coalition field trip.

The Wildlife Coalition had their first field trip when Ingrid Wiesel and Robin Lines joined Flip Stander on the Kunene Lion Project.

30 July 2006: Support from Dunlop, Namibia.

Dunlop continued their support of the Kunene Lion Project by providing a set of tires for both vehicles. Mr. Malcolm Taylor is thanked.