NEWS 2009

2009
Jan/Feb

January/February 2009

28 Feb 2009: New sponsorship for tires: After the presentation at the Land Cruiser Club of SA in Gauteng (SA) on 14 January 2008, there was much discussion about the need for more suitable tires for the Land Cruiser. The LCCSA and Mr Adolf Huester pursued the idea and secured sponsorship of BF Goodrich tires for the vehicle. Ms Sian Peters, Communications Manager of Michelin Tyre Company of SA, informed Desert Lion Conservation of their intended sponsorship. More details will follow soon.

26 Feb 2009: Rain & movement updates: The past view days have seen heavy cloud build-ups and massive storms in the late afternoon. Flooding rivers and muddy terrain have restricted any driving between the Koigab and Huab Rivers. The movement of wildlife, in response to the rain, has been fascinating. Vast herds of springbok and Hartmann’s zebra have been seen on the western gravel plains, and many animals are trying to cross the veterinary corridor (see photos below, taken on 23/2/09). NEW movement animation is available for the Hoanib Male.

24 Feb 2009: Rain continues. Images of heavy downpours and spectacular sunsets at Wereldsend.

22 Feb 2009: Latest animation updates are available for the Hoanib Male and the Springbok Male. Part 7 of the "Sandfall movie" now is available.

21 Feb 2009: The value of digital photos. A few days ago the Wilderness staff at Rhino Camp observed and photographed a small group of lions in the Agab River. From these photos (below), it was possible to identify all the adult and sub-adult lions, and determine that one of the lionesses (Xpl-36, see middle photo) is lactating and had recently given birth (notice the suckle marks circled in red). Photos: Emsie Verwey.

20 Feb 2009: More floods.

Attempts to follow the lions as they moved east onto the Hoanib Floodplain was cut short. Almost the entire Floodplain is covered in water, extending to within 2 km of the dune belt. The mission had to be abandoned and the Floodplain will be inaccessible for several months.

19/20 Feb 2009: Efforts go unrewarded. The lions at Oasis were skittish and remained hidden in the reeds. Only the adult male was observed (see photos: 17-19 Feb’09), but the second lion, presumably a female, remained unidentified. The lions left Oasis at 01h49. They moved through the dune-belt to Auses Spring, and I followed at a safe distance (not to disturb them). At 09:46 the lions entered a Tamarisk thicket and I got a brief glimpse of the male (see photos below). With the hopes of identifying the lioness, I decided to wait at that position until the lions emerged. The visibility on both sides of the thicket was good (photo - far right), and there appeared to be enough time. However, after sitting with binoculars glued to the thicket for more than ten hours, the sun had set and it became too dark to see. At 21h48 the lions roared and then emerged from the thicket, but it was too dark to identify the lioness.

19 Feb 2009: Animation updates. See Hoanib Male and Springbok Male.

17 - 19 Feb 2009: Lions at Oasis. With the flooding of the Hoanib River that extended to the floodplains, lions from the Hoanib Floodplain Pride moved over the dunes to the coast and killed an oryx at Oasis Spring, near the mouth of the Hoanib River. The lions have thus far been observed continuously for 72 hours.

This is a significant event. The last time lions were physically observed at Oasis Spring was in 1993, more than 25 years ago. Below is a summary of all the known observations of lions at Oasis Spring.

Date
Observer
No. of lions
Notes
March 1975 T. Cooper
4
Feeding on Hartman's zebra (that drowned)
June 1975 E. Karlowa
4
 
July 1976 T. Cooper
4
Feeding on oryx
December 1976 T. Cooper
3 (2 males & 1 female)
 
August 1982 P. Bridgeford
3 (1 male & 2 females)
Feeding on cormorants
May 1983 S. Braine
5 (1 male, 1 female, 3 juv)
 
September 1983 P. Tarr
1 (female)
 

Images of the lions at Oasis Spring

16 Feb 2009: Animation updates. See Hoanib Male and Springbok Male.

14 Feb 2009: Rain & logistical problems. Heavy rains and the flooding of many rivers have restricted movements. Damage to two tires, the Cruiser’s ARB diff-lock system and the winch have complicated fieldwork, especially under the treacherous conditions. NEW movement animation is available for the Hoanib Male.

Debris on the Hoanib floodplain
Flooding of small drainage lines
North of the Hunkap River (photo: H Gries)

13 Feb 2009: Movement animation. The final movement animation update for the Springbok male (Xpl-35) has been done up to 13 Feb 2009. Additional photos added to the Land Cruiser page.

11-12 Feb 2009: Escaping from the Hoanib floods. Whilst tracking Xpl-3, the Hoanib River came down in flood and a hasty escape had to be made along the Mudorib River. NEW update is available for Camera Trap.

10-11 Feb 2009: Observing Hoanib Floodplain lions. Heavy rains in December 2008 resulted in flooding of the Hoanib River that reached the floodplain. This caused the antelope to vacate the floodplain in search of green grass on the gravel plains. The Hoanib Floodplain lions were located south of the floodplain and were observed hunting amongst the granite boulders. NEW updates are also available for: GPS collar - Hoanib Male & Springbok Male, and Part 6 of the "Sandfall movie" has been added to Gallery.

9 Feb 2009: Xpl-35 movement updates. New GPS collar movement animations available for the Springbok Male (Xpl-35).

7 Feb 2009: Xpl-35 ("Ugab killer") located. After killing "Miles" (Xpl-16) in the Ugab River in August 2008, Xpl-35 was darted and fitted with a GPS collar on 28 Aug 2008. Thereafter he disappeared without a trace, despite extensive search efforts. After nearly six months I finally tracked him down during the early hours of this morning (see GPS collars - Springbok Pride for more details). Also note that the latest movement animation update is available for the Hoanib Male.

3 - 6 Feb 2009: Rescuing the Hoanib Male. Arrive on location in the Hoanib River at 23h30 (3 Feb '09) and navigate to co-ordinates received from the satellite GPS collar. A traumatic night enfolded as Xpl-3 moved between several livestock carcases that were armed with large gin traps, and possibly laced with strychnine. A sub-adult male lion joined Xpl-3. He had a smallish gin trap attached to his left back foot. Efforts to dart both lions and move them away from the conflict area failed. Xpl-3 finally decided to move on to the safety of the southern mountains, and the young male could not be found again after heavy rains on the third day. Wilderness Safaris are thanked for their support during this period.

3 Feb 2009: Hoanib Male. The movements of the Hoanib male (Xpl-3) during the past 24 hours appear suspicious. Todays email from his satellite GPS collar confirmed this suspicion. From the pattern of his movements it would appear that he might have been attracted to bait. There is a risk that he may be trapped, poisoned or shot. I've stopped the work in the Uniab and leaving now for the Hoanib to investigate.

1 Feb 2009: Updates. New movement animations for the Hoanib Male. Spotted hyaenas damaged and carried-off yet another camera trap at Wereldsend – see Camera Trap.

28 Jan - 3 Feb 2009: Lion problem at Palm. Lions have reportedly killed 10 donkeys and other livestock at Palm Pos in the Torra Conservancy. With help from Wilderness Safaris, at the nearby Palmwag Lodge, efforts to locate the lions and evaluate the problem are ongoing. A small group of lions from the Uniab/Obab Pride were located in the area and have been observed. It has not yet been possible to ascertain if they were responsible for the livestock killings.

30 Jan 2009: New Website Statistics Page. A new Page has been launched that will present monthly summaries of visitor statistics. The results for January 2009 is currently available under Website Statistics. Also note that Part 5 of the "Sandfall movie" has been added to Gallery.
29 Jan 2009: Camera Trap failure. One of the two Cuddeback cameras was set-up at an important spring in the Springbok River, inside the Skeleton Coast Park, towards the end of December 2008. The camera was retrieved earlier today (after 4 weeks) and there were recorded images. This appears to be a technical failure, and it is a huge disappointment.

23 Jan 2009: Website statistics. Since the activation of the Piwik web monitoring system on 13 Jan 2009, the website was viewed by 676 visitors from 36 countries. The USA, South Africa, Germany and the United Kingdom contributed to 75% of the visits (see pie graph). Countries listed as "Other" include: Norway, China, Greece, Czech Republic, Russia, Turkey, Tanzania, Singapore, Chile, Angola, New Zeeland, Mauritius, India, Finland, Denmark, United Arab Emirates, Romania, Brazil, Iceland, Spain, Slovakia & Saudi Arabia. Thirteen of the 51 available web pages attracted almost 78% of the visits, with News, GPS collars (especially the Hoanib Male), Carnivores, Desert Lions, Camera Trap, Image of the Moment, and the Site Map proving to be the most popular pages.

14 Jan 2009: Presentation to the LCCSA. A report on the Land Cruiser and the progress of the research project was presented to members of the LCCSA during an event held at Safari Centre in Boksburg, Gauteng. Mr Jaco van Schalkwyk, owner of Safari Centre, Boksburg, kindly sponsored the venue and food, Mr Adolf Huester initiated and organised the event, and sponsored refreshments, and Mr Hennie Kotze helped with arrangements and hosted the event. Approximately 35 LCCSA members attended the presentation (photos - Siggy Bishop). Click here for more details on the Report.

27 Dec 2008 - 27 Jan 2009: Website upgrade. During 2008 the volume of information and images posted on this site increased dramatically. As a result, it became necessary to re-design the structure of the site to ensure that the information can be accessed easily by all visitors: those with fast Internet connections and those that use slow dial-up connections, such as in many parts of Namibia. A summary of updates are listed below:
31/12/08 - Restructure of Home page and News sections.
2/1/09 - Site map and summary of updates, and navigation tool on all pages (top right).
3/1/09 - Update GPS movement animations for Hoaruseb Pride. Create SQL database & establish website monitoring structure.
5/1/09 - Restructure GPS collar pages & update animations for the Hoanib Male and theHoanib/Hunkap pride.
6/1/09 - Update the Training page. Develop new structure for the News pages.
7/1/09 - Partial update of the Sponsor page. Movement animation update of the Hoanib Male.
9/1/09 - NEW page called: Image of the Momemt. This page displays a photo or image that will be changed everytime the site is updated.
12/1/09 - New video sequence added to Gallery.
13/1/09 - Create SQL database. Install & activate PIWIK website monitoring system. Update movement animation for the Hoanib Male.
16/1/09 - Update movement animation for the Hoanib Male.
18/1/09 - Modify Site Map for improved navigation of the Website.
20/1/09 - Part 3 of "Sandfall movie" added to Gallery. Update movement animation for the Hoanib Male. Update of Cruiser Report.
23/1/09 - Restructure and update Hoaruseb Cubs page. Create new GPS Collar pages for the Hoanib Male & Hoanib Floodplain Pride and update animations (5 new animations for the Hoanib Floodplain Pride). Add more photos to Cruiser page. Part 4 of "Sandfall movie" added to Gallery.
27/1/09 - Update movement animation for the Hoanib Male.