NEWS 2009


July 2009

31 July 2009. Hoanib lions. The Hoanib Pride (Bianca) was found in the Hoanib River near the Mudorib junction, early this morning. Six tourist vehicles drove past the lions, but none saw the lions. A large number of giraffes were observed drinking at the Mudorib waterhole.

30 July 2009. Observe Xpl-3. The Hoanib Male (Adolf) was located and observed for most of the night, whilst feeding on a gemsbok carcass- click here to view short video clip. See latest movement animation of Hoanib Male.

29 July 2009. Missing radio collar. A lion radio collar that was placed in the Hoanib River to act as a beacon has been removed. The collar (see photos below) was placed in the Hoanib River, between the Ganamub gorge and the Obias Junction, to assist with radio-tracking procedures. The collar was removed between 11 and 20 July 2009. If anyone has information of the whereabouts of the radio collar, please contact (incorrect address corrected).

28 July 2009. Survey Hunkap area. In strong east-wind conditions another comprehensive search for “Charlotte” and the Hunkap lions produced no results. Adolf Huester (Land Cruiser Club of SA) participated in the search that covered the upper Hunkap and Mudorib rivers.

27 July 2009. Xpl-45 at Hunkap. The Obab lioness (Xpl-45) was found at Hunkap Spring. She was not present during the recent sighting of Nina’s group and it was suspected that she remained behind in the Hunkap area.

25 July 2009. LCCSA visit. Adolf Huester of the Land Cruiser Club of Southern Africa is on a visit to the Kunene Region and will be joining the Project for a few days. We met-up this evening just east of Kai-Ais spring. See Hoanib Male for latest GPS animation update.

25 July 2009. Level II Training Course. The first Lion and Tourism - Level II training course was initiated at Palmwag Lodge for Wilderness Safaris staff. Unfortunately most of the trainees had to leave the training sessions due to work obligations, and the course was abandoned. The remaining time was spent on presenting lion data from Etosha National Park to the two Wilderness staff members from Ongava, and discussing lion conservation issues - photo below left: Patrick (Etendeka Tented Camp), Regan Fransman & Charles van Zyl (Ongava). The Aub lions were located and observed briefly.

24 July 2009. East-winds return. After a brief break that saw cold misty conditions the east-wind returned with vengence. Dust and sandstorms raged in the western Skeleton Coast Park that limited driving to speeds of less than 40 km/h.

23 July 2009. Updates. New movement animations are available for the Hoanib Male and the Hoanib Floodplain Pride.

20 July 2009. East-winds continue. The strong easterly winds persisted and fieldwork was stopped temporarily. The Hoanib male (right) - photographed at dusk on the Hoanib Foodplain. New movement animations are now available for the Hoanib Pride (Bianca, Xpl-47), the Hoanib Floodplain Pride (Xpl-10 and the Hoanib Male (Adolf, Xpl-3).

18 July 2009. East-winds. Strong and hot easterly winds have persisted for more than 30 hours. At times the winds were estimated to gust at 100 km/hr. Fieldwork has become near impossible under these conditions. A brown hyena was flushed in the lower Hunkap River. Images are presented below of the east-winds along the coast.

17 July 2009. Illusive Hunkap lions. Most of the night was spent searching in vain for the Hunkap lions. Xpl-45 and the missing Agab lions were observed again this morning. Strong easterly winds, reaching 60 km/h, started at 03h00 and continued throughout the day. New movement animations are available for the Hoanib Male and the Hoanib Pride (Bianca).

16 July 2009. Find missing Agab lions. Whilst searching for “Charlotte” (the Hunkap female) the signal of Xpl-45 was picked-up north of Kai-Ais Spring. She was with four sub-adult lions. Based on their unique whisker spot patterns, the sub-adults were identified as the youngsters that were with Xpl-17 when she was shot at Bergsig in July 2008. They had not been observed since the incident.

15 July 2009. Obab lions returned. The Obab lions (Nina and her group) have returned to their normal home range after spending some time in the Hunkap River. They were located this morning between the Urunedis and Obab rivers – 58 km from where they were last seen on 21 June 2009. One adult lioness (Xpl-45) was not with the group. It is suspected that she is in oestrous and may have remained behind with the Hunkap male.

14 July 2009. Observe Xpl-48. After darting “Shackleton” late yesterday afternoon, he was observed for most of today and this evening. He started moving late this afternoon in search for the lionesses that abandoned him during the night. New movement animations are available for the Hoanib Pride (Bianca) and the Hoanib Male (Adolf).

13 July 2009. Dart “Shackleton”. When the sub-adult male (Xpl-48) was marked in December 2008, it was decided that he must be re-captured in July 2009 in order to lengthen his radio collar. After some difficulty in approaching the lions because of rocky terrain, Xpl-48 was immobilised. His radio collar was still quite loose, but was lengthened sufficiently to accommodate any further growth to adulthood. To view darting sequence (with sound) – click on play button. (Photos below, left by E Verwey)

12 July 2009. Shift focus to south. Another attempt was made to dart Xpl-3, but the terrain remained a major hurdle. Efforts were then turned south to search for the Hunkap and Obab lions, and to dart a sub-adult male (Xpl-48 “Shackleton”) to lengthen his radio collar.

11 July 2009. Mixed success in the Hoanib. Despite exhausting efforts Xpl-3 could not be darted to remove the satellite GPS collar. It was decided to first locate the Hoanib lioness, Xpl-47 (Bianca), remove the conventional GPS collar fitted to her in May 2008, replace it with a VHF radio collar, and then fit that GPS collar to Xpl-3. This elaborate plan did not succeed because, although both lions were located, the terrain, in both cases, was too rough and the lions could not be approached to within darting range. New movement animations are now available for Xpl-10 (Hoanib Floodplain Pride), Xpl-47 (Hoanib Pride) and Xpl-3 (Hoanib Male).

9 July 2009. More on the Hoanib lions. Shortly before sunrise the Hoanib Floodplain lions approached the Cruiser. It was a spectacular sight because they were wet from head to toe, due to the coastal fog that settled in during the night. Efforts are being made to dart Xpl-3 (Adolf - the Hoanib Male) in order to remove his satellite GPS collar. This has sadly become necessary because the Project cannot currently afford the satellite fees and downloading costs. The satellite GPS collar will, however, be replaced by a conventional VHF radio collar, so that Xpl-3 can still be tracked occasionally. The Hoanib lioness, Bianca (Xpl-47) was located late this afternoon in the upper Ganamub River, but she moved into a deep canyon before the data from her GPS collar could be downloaded.

8 July 2009. Hoanib lions. Strong easterly winds and temperatures reaching 40 degree Celsius during the past 72 hours have made fieldwork difficult, and near impossible at times. After a mammoth effort in the east-wind conditions the Hoanib Floodplain lions were located 10 km south of the Hoanib River towards Hunkap Spring. Movement data were downloaded from the GPS collar fitted to Xpl-10 on 17 May 2009. New movement animation is available for the Hoanib Male.

6 July 2009. New information. Following recent requests, several additional reports, scientific and popular articles are now available in pdf format under the Products page. The latest movement animation for the Hoanib Male has been up-loaded. Errors with the May/June 2009 News page have been rectified.

3 July 2009. Donation of medical supplies. A remarkable effort to generate support for medical supplies was initiated by Peter and Bernd Sander. After spending a few days with the Desert Lion Project in early May 2009, Peter Sander co-ordinated a fundraising effort amongst individuals in the medical profession in Namibia & South Africa. Immobilisation drugs and other medical supplies to the value of N$ 30,000 were donated to the Project (see Sponsors for more details). A summary of website statistics for June 2009 is available (see Statistics). For the first time since January 2009, South Africa have surpassed the USA in the number and duration of visits to this website. (Photos: left - Jessi Junker, far right - Dirk Heinrich).

2 July 2009. Cruiser ready for fieldwork. The Land Cruiser received a major service from Steckel’s Toyota in Swakopmund. An additional 300-litre petrol tank, sponsored by the Land Cruiser Club of SA, was installed, and Swakop Fitment Centre supplied four new tires, donated by Dr R Lichtman. A few additional modifications are being done before fieldwork will resume. New movement animations are available for the Hoanib Male.