NEWS 2009


May/June 2009

27 June 2009. Vehicle repairs. The service and repairs to the Land Cruiser has consumed more time than expected. An extra 300-litre fuel tank, donated by the Land Cruiser Club of SA, is currently being fitted by Steckel’s Toyota. Dr Rod Lichtman (Namibia) donated N$ 10,560.00 for four new tires (see Sponsors). A new movement animation update is available for the Hoanib Male.

23 June 2009. Agab lions doing well. Wilderness Safaris staff from Rhino Camp came across the Agab Pride at Salvadora Spring on 22 June 2009. The lions were relaxed and were in good condition (photos below by E. Verwey). New movement animations are available for the Hoanib Male and the Springbok Male (Xpl-35).

21 June 2009. Leave Hunkap lions. Ongoing problems with flat tires have forced the decision to abandon active fieldwork. The terrain and working conditions have destroyed the tires currently used on the Land Cruiser. During the past 18 days a total of 24 puncture had to be repaired in the field, whilst searching for, or observing lions, and as many as four puncture had to be fixed in one night. The Land Cruiser will receive a major service from Steckles Toyota, in Swakopmund, between 23-25 June 2009, and efforts are underway to secure more reliable tires for the vehicle.

20/21 June 2009. Hunkap male arrives. After sunset the Obab lions moved north of Hunkap Spring. There was a lot of roaring during the night and the Hunkap male (Xpl-54) approached from the southeast during the early morning hours. By 10h00 the two groups had not yet met up, but an encounter between them was imminent. New movement animations are available for the Hoanib Male and the Springbok Male (Xpl-35).

19 June 2009. Hunkap Spring. Radio-tracking efforts to locate the Hunkap lions throughout most of last night and today were unsuccessful. The Obab lions (Nina “Xpl-49” and her group), however, were found at Hunkap Spring shortly after midday.

18 June 2009. Mysterious Hunkap lions. An extensive search effort to locate the Hunkap pride (“Charlotte” & Xpl-54) has thus far been unsuccessful. The extremely rough terrain is taking its toll on the Land Cruiser’s tires, and five punctures had to be repaired in the past 30 hours. The search will continue over the next 48 hours. New movement animation available for the Springbok Male.

17 June 2009. Hunkap observations. Nina’s group were observed for most of the night. After sunrise the left the Hunkap River and moved amongst red schist & gneiss rock formations, where they surprised an oryx and nearly caught it. By 10h00 they were resting and the search was continued for the Hunkap pride (“Charlotte” & Xpl-54) towards Hunkap Spring and the upper Mudorib tributaries. New movement animation available for the Hoanib Male.

16 June 2009. Lions in lower Hunkap. The lions (Nina’s group) finished the zebra carcass during the night and started moving westwards, following the course of the Hunkap River. They spent the day amongst granite boulders on the north bank of the river and continued moving westwards after dark.

15 June 2009. Surprise discovery in Hunkap. Whilst searching for Charlotte (Xpl-53) and the Hunkap lions, the tracks of a group of lions were followed westward along the Hunkap River. At a distance of 17 km west of Hunkap Spring, very recent tracks of lions were found, but radio signals from the Hunkap group could not yet be herd. Whilst following the tracks on foot, Xpl-49 (Nina) and her group were bumped into, whilst feeding on a zebra carcass. This is a valuable observation because Nina’s group has not previously ventured this far north, or this far west.

14 June 2009. Aub Cubs. During the recent efforts in May and June 2009 to observe and follow the Aub lions, they have become habituated to the research vehicle. The five cubs spent several hours playing next to the vehicle. New movement animation is available for the Hoanib Male.

13 June 2009. Aub lions – second day. Attempts follow Xpl-5 and her group during the night were complicated by the difficult terrain and a flat tyre shortly before 02H00. They were located again during the late morning and observed until dark.

12 June 2009. Aub lions. At 23h00 last night the signal of Xpl-5 was picked-up and followed. Driving across the large basalt rocks, covered with grass, was difficult and the lions were only located at 04h20 this morning. They were observed for most of the day and the sexes of the five cubs (of Xpl-52) were confirmed as one male and four females.

11 June 2009. Find Xpl-52. A faint signal from Xpl-52’s radio collar was heard from a high observation point early this afternoon. After several hours of driving through riverbeds and over ridges, Xpl-52 was found in the upper reaches of the Awaxas River. She was with the (known) unmarked lioness, their five small cubs, and two sub-adult females. New movement animations are available for Xpl-35 and the Hoanib Male.

10 June 2009. Searching for Aub lions. Last night’s attempts to follow Xpl-35 were soon hampered by the rough and rocky terrain, and he moved out of radio tracking range at 01:30. The Awaxas, Kawaxab & Aub Rivers were searched extensively today, but there was no sign of lions and the six resident radio-collared lions could not be located. The search will be continued in the upper Aub and Barab Rivers later tonight and tomorrow. A new movement animation of Xpl-35 for May 2009 is available for viewing.

10 June 2009. Training results. To date 27 tour-guides and managers, mainly from Wilderness Safaris, have attended the Lions & Tourism Level 1 course, held at three different venues (2/12/08 – Rhino Camp, 5-6/6/09 – Palmwag, 8/6/09 – Rhino Camp). At the start of each course the participants were given an exam as a test of their general knowledge of lions and to prompt them to think about the aspects of lion biology, behaviour and ecology that were to follow during the training session. The average score of the test was 52% and 14 of the 27 participants scored less than 50%, suggesting that the general knowledge of lions at the start of the training course was in need of improvement. Six individuals, however, scored > 65% and their details are listed below.

Jason Nott - 86%
Palmwag Lodge
Potuu Mbomboro - 75%
Polytechnic student
Ignatius Hanabeb - 71%
Rhino Camp Manager
Dennis Liebenberg - 68%
Etendeka Tented Camp
Johann Cloete - 68%
Doro !Nawas
Harry Ganuseb - 65%
Rhino Camp

9 June 2009. Locate Xpl-35 in Kawakap River. Shortly before dawn the signal of Xpl-35 (an adult male fitted with a GPS collar in the Ugab River during August 2008) was heard on the telemetry receiver. It took several hours to negotiate the rocky terrain and the lion was located at 09h20. Whilst trying to manoeuvre the Land Cruiser closer to Xpl-35, the vehicle got stuck in a deep mud hole, less than 50 metres from the lion. The Cruiser was finally dislodged from the mud at midday. The movement data from Xpl-35’s GPS collar was successfully downloaded and new movement animations will be posted shortly.

8 June 2009. More training at Rhino Camp. Another “Lions & Tourism Level 1” training course was held at Rhino Camp (Wilderness Safaris) on 8 June 2009, to accommodate the availability of two Guides that missed the previous sessions. Harry Ganuseb, Gotlob Hawaxab and Potuu Mbomboro attended the course. The managers of Rhino Camp (Daphne Augas & Ignatius Hanabeb) sat in on the course and also provided valuable support, for which they are thanked. After the training, fieldwork continued and an extensive search for the Agab and Aub lions was initiated.

7 June 2009. Training Course at Palmwag. The training course “Lions & Tourism Level 1”, held on 5 & 6 June 2009, was attended 17 staff members from Wilderness Safaris (14) and Etendeka Tented Camp (3). The training material was received well and four additional courses, two of which will be “Lions & Tourism Level 2, were scheduled for the remainder of 2009. See list of attendees below.
Palmwag - Jason Nott, Emile Visser, Denzel Bezuidenhout, Salomon Kamerika, Heidi Dedman, Durr Ferreira. Hoanib Camp – Corne de Lange.
Etendeka Tented Camp – Dennis Liebenberg, Claire Liebenberg, Bonny /Awarab.
Desert Rhino Camp – Aloysius Waterboer. Kulala Wilderness Camp – Richard Kasaona. Kulala Desert Lodge – Christof Tjiramba.
Doro !Nawas – Johann Cloete. Ongava Tented Camp – Regan Fransman, Rio Aibeb. Anderson Camp (Ongava) – Charles van Zyl.

5 June 2009. Training Course at Palmwag. Xpl-49 (Nina) moved westwards into the Skeleton Coast Park on 4 June 2008, and could not be located again. A training course on approaching and viewing lions for tourism is currently being held at Palmwag Lodge. Guides and Camp Managers from Palmwag, Rhino Camp, Damaraland Camp, Kulala Wilderness Camp, Hoanib Camp, Doro !Nawas, Ongava (Wilderness Safaris) and Etendeka Concession are attending the course. More details will follow tomorrow. The latest movement animation of the Hoanib Male is also available. Additional sponsorships have been received from the LCCSA (see link to LCCSA) and Adolf Huester – see Sponsors.

3 June 2009. Xpl-49. During the night the Obab lions moved through rocky terrain and could not be followed. The signal of Xpl-49 (Nina) was picked-up this afternoon and she was located on top of a mountain near the border of the Skeleton Coast Park.

2 June 2009. Obab lions. An extensive search for the Hunkap lions and Xpl-53 (with the GPS collar) during the past four days produced no results. The Obab lions (Xpl-22 & co), however, were located in the Kharu-gaiseb River, earlier this afternoon (photos below). The latest movement animation of the Hoanib Male is available for viewing.

1 June 2009. Elusive Hunkap lions. Three gruelling days of searching for the Hunkap lionesses and Xpl-53, recently fitted with a GPS collar, were unsuccessful. This highlights the significance of the occasion on 5 May 2009, and the amount of luck that was involved, when two lions from the Hunkap Pride were darted and radio-collared.

31 May 2009. Web statistics. There was a marked increase in the frequency and duration of visits to this website during May 2009 (see Web Statistics).

30 May 2009. Return to Hunkap lions. The tracks of four lions were followed towards the Hunkap. An extensive search effort was launched to locate Xpl-53 (Charlotte) and download data from her GPS collar. The adult male (Xpl-54) was observed in the hills southwest of Hunkap spring. New movement animations can be viewed for the Hoanib Pride (Bianca) and the Hoanib Male (Adolf).

28 May 2009. Click here to view Flash animation of Xpl-10 attacking an adult giraffe (584 KB).

27 May 2009. Hoanib update. Images of the Hoanib Floodplain pride and a Lanner falcon attacking a Pied crow. New movement animation updates are available for the Hoanib Male and for the Hoanib Pride (January to March 2009).

24 May 2009. Xpl-9 alive. A 17-year-old lioness (Xpl-9) was observed and photographed by Laurence and Piet Beytell of Save the Rhino Trust on 22 May 2009, north of Palmwag. This is a remarkable sighting. Xpl-9 was last seen shortly before her radio collar stopped working in 2005. She was first marked in Jun 1994, radio-collared in 2000, and then studied intensively between 2000 and 2005. Remarkably, she was in good condition and was mating with Xpl-50 (recently fitted with a GPS collar). An extensive effort to locate Xpl-9 on 23 and 24 May 2009 has not yet been successful. New animation update available for the Hoanib Male.

22 May 09 - Laurence (SRT)
Brandmarked in Jun 1994
Darted & radio-collared 0n 14 Jan 2000
Brandmark on 14 Jan 2000

22 May 2009. Xpl-10 and sub-adults. Observations on Xpl-10 and the sub-adults were continued after the darting on 20 May 2009. They were hunting again, but were also relaxed and did not appear to associate the disturbance caused by the darting with the vehicle.


21 May 2009. Mating lions. Xpl-25 is in oestrous and is mating. The cubs from her previous litter are now 2 years and 4 months old and two of them were marked yesterday (Xpl-55 & Xpl-56). See Hoanib Male & Hoanib/Hunkap Pride for animation updates.

20 May 2009. Xpl-10 kill giraffe. Just after midday Xpl-10 and the sub-adults were located in the eastern part of the Floodplain. They hunted and killed a giraffe. During the following evening, after they had been feeding on the giraffe, Xpl-10 was darted, to replace her fading radio collar. Two of the sud-adults were also darted. The female (Xpl-55) was radio-collared and the male (Xpl-56) was brand-marked.


19 May 2009. Hoanib Floodplain Pride. Xpl-10 and Xpl-25 were located in the western section of the Hoanib Floodplain.

18 May 2009. Movement animations. After spending most of the night near Xpl-47, she started moving at 02h00. Her signal was lost shortly thereafter and she could not be located again by 09h00 the next morning. There are very few prey animals in the main river systems, like the Hoanib, and it is not surprising that the lions are moving long distances over the mountainous terrain in search of food. New movement animations have been uploaded for the Hunkap Pride (Charlotte, Xpl-53), the Hoanib Male (Adolf, Xpl-3), and the Hoanib Pride (Bianca, Xpl-47).

17 May 2009. Locate Xpl-47. During an intensive search effort of the Hoanib River and associated tributaries, the signal of “Bianca” was picked-up at 22h30 in the Obias River, 12 km north of the Mudorib junction. It was possible to retrieve of all the data stored in her GPS collar, since the last download in mid December 2008. The first movement animation is available under Hoanib/Hunkap Pride and more will follow during the next few days.

16 May 2009. Hoanib Floodplain. The night was spent observing the Hoanib Floodplain Pride feeding on the oryx carcass. Shortly after sunrise an attempt was made to drive through the Hoanib Floodplain. As the first vehicle to do so after the recent floods it was a difficult task, and the eastern edge of the Floodplain was only reached after sunset. There were tracks of several vehicles that attempted to drive through from the east, but they were probably made by people who entered the area illegally, since they clearly did not know where the original tack was, and in the process made damaging tracks that will remain visible for many years. Just before the main floods in February 2009, a camera trap was set-up in a narrow gorge on the western part of the Floodplain. The camera was retrieved today and images are available under Camera Trap/Hoanib Floodplain.

15/16 May 2009. Lions at coast. The Hoanib Floodplain Pride killed an oryx in a reed-bed, 4 km from the beach and just south of the Hoanib River.

15 May 2009. Lions at the mouth of the Hoanib. A report was followed-up of a badly wounded lion in the Hoanib River. The lion was not wounded, but was covered in blood after killing a young giraffe. The Hoanib Floodplain Pride was located at the mouth of the Hoanib River. The latest movement animation for the Hoanib Male has been posted.

13/14 May 2009. Leave Hunkap lions. After a most productive week it was decided to leave the Hunkap area. Plans are to return within a few weeks to follow-up on the movements and observations on the lions. See animation updates for the Hoanib Male and the Hunkap Pride ("Charlotte" Xpl-53).

12 May 2009. Hunkap dunes. Locate Charlotte (Xpl-53) and two lionesses in one of the upper Mudorib tributaries. Follow Xpl-54 and the tracks of another male lion into the dunes along the lower section of the Hunkap River. The photo below (bottom, middle) is a panoramic merge of Xpl-54 walking across the Hunkap riverbed.

11 May 2009. Hunkap male. Observations were continued on Xpl-54 as he moved west of Hunkap Spring, towards the border of the Skeleton Coast Park. He has been roaring continuously and hopes are that he will meet-up with other Hunkap lions.

10 May 2009. Search for more Hunkap lions. Charlotte (Xpl-53) and the other females moved towards Zebra Spring and the eastern mountains during the night and the terrain became too difficult to negotiate with the Land Cruiser. During the early morning hour’s observations were turned to Xpl-54. He was roaring frequently and hopes were that he might meet-up with other members of the Hunkap Pride. New movement animations have been posted for the Springbok Male and the Hoanib Male.

9 May 2009. Full moon with the Hunkap lions. Spectacular views with the full moon rising over the Karakaub plains complimented interesting observations on the Hunkap lions as Charlotte (Xpl-53) joined up with a third adult female and three 8-month old cubs. The latest movement animation is available for the Hunkap Pride.

8 May 2009. Charlotte’s world. It has been a privilege to get a brief insight into the lives of the Hunkap lions. They live in an area rarely visited by people; little is known about the ecology and even less about the lions.

7 May 2009. Hunkap lioness. Observations on the Hunkap lions continue. The lioness (Xpl-53) fitted with a GPS collar has been named “Charlotte” and her movement animations are now available under GPS collars/Hunkap Pride.

6 May 2009. Observe Hunkap lions. After the immobilisation of Xpl-53 and 54, observations on the Hunkap lions were continued. Great care was taken not to disturb the lions and a safe distance (>150 metres) was kept. In less than 24 hours the lions have accepted the vehicle.

5/6 May 2009. Capture secretive Hunkap lions. Fresh lion tracks at Hunkap Spring were followed for 7 km towards Duncan Spring. Sound playbacks were used to try and lure the lions closer. The lions were extremely skittish and by 01h45, after waiting for 14 hours, the mission appeared to have failed. Minutes before abandoning the effort, 5 lions appeared and approached the vehicle. Two adult lionesses were very aggressive and charged the vehicle several times. One of the lionesses and an adult male were darted. But the lions then moved off into very rocky terrain and the two sleeping lions had to be approached on foot. The lioness (Xpl-53) was fitted with a GPS collar and the male (Xpl-54) with a VHF collar. New movement animations available for the Springbok Male and the Hoanib Male.

4 May 2009. Lions in the Samanab. Whilst following a faint radio telemetry signal of Xpl-50, recently fitted with a GPS collar, a small group of lionesses and large cubs were spotted in the upper Samanab River at sunset. They were observed hunting zebras.

2 May 2009. Dart Xpl-36. The Agab lions moved back to the Rhino Camp area for the first time since they disappeared into the mountains on 19 April 2009. Wilderness Safaris Staff at Rhino Camp assisted with the darting of Xpl-36 to replace her radio collar (Photos by E. Verwey). New GPS animation updates for the Springbok Male and Hoanib Male.

1 May 2009. Reconnect with Obab lions. Xpl-22 and her group of 7 lions (3 adult females & 4 large cubs) were located and observed near the Aub/Barab junction. They are in excellent condition and have clearly been successful preying on the abundant zebras in the area. A summary of Website Statistics is available for April 2009. The latest GPS movement animations were uploaded for Xpl-35 (Springbok Male) and the Hoanib Male.