NEWS 2009


August 2009

31 Aug 2009. Back with Hoanib lions. After refuelling the Cruiser, the Hoanib lions were located at midnight. They were moving along a riverbed in the moonlight. Shortly after sunrise, however, they moved into very rugged terrain and could not be followed. The day was spent trying to find a way around the mountains to continue observations.

Two collared lionesses in the moonlight
The sub-adults at sunrise
Xpl-58 and her siblings

30 Aug 2009. Logistics. Late this afternoon 600 litres of petrol arrived when Jason Nott, of Wilderness Safaris, delivered the fuel to their Hoanib Camp. Fieldwork will now continue with the Hoanib Pride.

29 Aug 2009. Petrol problems. Observations on the Hoanib Pride had to be stopped because the Land Cruiser had run out of fuel and arrangements to have petrol delivered to the Hoanib had failed. This is most unfortunate because the time invested with the Hoanib lions, especially over the past four days, were showing positive results as the lions were beginning to accept and trust the research vehicle. See new movement animations for the Hoanib Male and the Hoanib Floodplain Pride.

The Hoanib lions have become used to the research vehicle
The first photo of one of the skittish lionesses

28 Aug 2009. Follow Hoanib lions. Xpl-47 (Bianca – middle photo) and her group were followed as they moved along the Mudorib River towards the east. The lions have become used to the vehicle and more detailed observations are now possible.

28 Aug 2009. Second synchronised animation.This synchronised movement animation is the second part of a display that shows the real-time movements of three GPS-collared lions and the Land Cruiser during one month. The first 15-day period was presented on 21 Aug 2009. Both animations are also available under Land Cruiser Report. Refer to the key (bottom right) for more information.

Key to movement animation:

Black car icon = Land Cruiser
Blue lion icon = Xpl-3 (Hoanib Male)
Green dot = Xpl-47 (Hoanib Pride)
Red dot = Xpl-10 (Floodplain Pride)

Red circle appears when lions are observed

Refer to the time scale on top of the image - the time runs constantly at 3 seconds per day.

27 Aug 2009. Dart Hoanib lioness. A young lioness (Xpl-58) of the Hoanib pride was darted and fitted with a radio collar.

26 Aug 2009. More excitement with Hoanib lions. The secretive Hoanib lions once again out-smarted attempts to dart one of the lionesses. After the moon had set they hunted and captured an adult oryx against a steep cliff, less than 200 metres from the vehicle. The sound of rocks crashing down the cliff as the lions subdued the oryx was deafening. Thick mist set in shortly thereafter, reducing visibility to a few metres, and prevented opportunities to dart the lionesses. Peter Sander (who arranged sponsorship of medical supplies – see Sponsors) and family visited the project and provided support and assistance.

The Hoanib lions in thick mist at dawn
Trail of lions dragging the oryx carcass
Jurgen, Anika, Peter & Mielies

25 Aug 2009. Weary Hoanib lions. Efforts to dart one of the two unmarked adult lionesses currently associating with Bianca (Xpl-47) have been unsuccessful. The five large cubs of this group have been observed regularly, even during daylight hours (see photos below), but the three adult lionesses are extremely weary. Latest movement animation available for the Hoanib Male.

23 Aug 2009. Lions back to Floodplain. The Floodplain lions consumed the oryx during the night and started moving south at 04h00. They reached the floodplain just before dawn and headed west towards Auses. New movement animation uploaded for Xpl-10.

The Floodplain lions at dawn, moving towards Auses

22 Aug 2009. Lions catch oryx. Shortly before dawn the Floodplain lions killed an adult oryx in the hills north of the Hoanib Floodplain. The latest movement animation is available for the Hoanib Male.

21 Aug 2009. Synchronised movement animation. A synchronised movement animation was compiled for the three GPS collared lions in the Hoanib River and the research vehicle during a 15-day period in the recent month. The animation shows real-time movements of the three groups of lions and the Land Cruiser in relation to each other. A red circle appears around the Land Cruiser and the lion when they are being followed and observed. Refer to the key (bottom right) for more information.

Key to movement animation:

Black car icon = Land Cruiser
Blue lion icon = Xpl-3 (Hoanib Male)
Green dot = Xpl-47 (Hoanib Pride)
Red dot = Xpl-10 (Floodplain Pride)

Red circle appears when lions are observed

Refer to the time scale on top of the image - the time runs constantly at 3 seconds per day.

21 Aug 2009. Follow Floodplain lions. Observations on the Hoanib Floodplain lions are ongoing. They moved across to the northwest of the floodplain during the night. Xpl-25 joined the group during the early morning hours.

20 Aug 2009. Move to the Hoanib Floodplain. Helmut, Marianne & Katharina Hofer, from Hamburg, Germany, visited the project briefly. They donated several valuable items that were listed under the Funding Section (see Sponsors). Some lions from the Hoanib Pride were spotted at the Obias River this morning. The Hoanib Floodplain lions were located late this afternoon and they will be monitored for the next few days.

A young lioness at the Obias River
Katharina Hofer
Two young lionesses of the Hoanib Floodplain Pride

19 Aug 2009. Dart Xpl-3. The Hoanib Pride was observed feeding on a springbok carcass and a radio microphone was placed in a tree near the carcass to assist with the monitoring. The large cubs found the microphone, pulled it from the tree and played with it, damaging it beyond repair. Attempts to dart an unmarked adult lioness failed, but Adolf (Xpl-3) arrived at the carcass and he was immobilised instead. A potential funding source to cover the satellite downloading costs (€72/month) has prevented the need to remove Xpl-3’s satellite GPS collar. But it was decided to re-programme the GPS sampling frequency of the collar from 11 to 4 positions per 24 hours. This will reduce the monthly fees to €51. The latest movement animation for the Hoanib Male (Adolf) is also available.

The radio microphone destroyed by the Hoanib lions
Drs Etienne & Anne-Marie Bruwer attending to Xpl-3
Re-programming Xpl-3's satellite GPS collar

18 Aug 2009. Hoanib Pride. Observations on the Hoanib Pride were continued throughout the night and today. By dawn the large cubs had become used to the Cruiser and approached the vehicle during the early morning hours. Data were collected on the interaction between tourist vehicles and the lions. Thus far none of the tourist had seen the lions, primarily because they were too noisy or got out of their vehicles. New movement animation available for the Hoanib Floodplain Pride.

Early morning observations of the five large cubs of Xpl-47 and an unmarked lioness of the Hoanib Pride

17 Aug 2009. Hoanib observations. Xpl-25 was followed and observed for most of the night on 16 Aug 2009, as she searched for prey on the Hoanib Floodplain. The Hoanib Pride was tracked and located near Dubis late on 17 Aug 2009 and the sub-adults, including Xpl-57, were observed until 22h00. The lioness with the GPS collar (Bianca) was located and the latest data from her collar were downloaded.

Xpl-25 search for prey on the Floodplain
Xpl-57 and her siblings near Dubis

15 Aug 2009. Xpl-25’s new litter. After observing Xpl-25 last night and analysing the video footage it was clear that she was lactating and her nipples appeared to have been suckled. This morning, whilst she was some distance away, her tracks were followed and the tracks of 2-4 very small lion cubs were found, as well as a spot where she had been lying down allowing the cubs to suckle. The cubs were born between 7 and 10 August 2009, roughly 92 days after she was first observed mating. Click on middle image to view short video clip of Xpl-25 moving amongst the dunes near the cubs. New movement animations are available for the Hoanib Male and the Hoanib Floodplain Pride.

The spoor of a cub (25 mm across)
Video clip of Xpl-25 (740 Kb / 00'53)
The spoor of several (2-4) small cubs

14 Aug 2009. Xpl-25 at Auses. The day was spent with Dr Etienne Bruwer’s group searching for Xpl-25 in the western section of the Hoanib Floodplain. Shortly after sundown Xpl-25 was spotted amongst the dune hummocks just south of Auses. It is suspected that she gave birth to a litter of cubs during the past two days.

The western Hoanib Floodplain
Xpl-25 lying on a dune hummock
Dinner on the Floodplain (photo - H Lochner)

13 Aug 2009. Locate the Hoanib Floodplain lions. After several days of intensive searching the Floodplain lions were found along the north-bank of the floodplain. They were observed during the late afternoon and evening. Shortly after dark the signal of Xpl-25 was heard towards the west and efforts are currently being made to locate her.

12 Aug 2009. Observe Xpl-3. Dr Etienne Bruwer, from Cape Town, joined the project for a few days. Dr Bruwer sponsored (in part) a Canon 24-70mm F2.8 Zoom lens. The Hoanib male (Adolf) was located and observed as he moved between the vehicles at dusk. A new movement animation is available for Xpl-10 (Hoanib Floodplain).

Hannes Lochner, Etienne & Anne-Marie Bruwer
An ostrich passed within 50 m of Xpl-3
Xpl-3 observing the vehicles after dark

10-11 Aug 2009. Dynamic Floodplain lions. Keeping track of and observing Xpl-10 and the Hoanib Floodplain lions during the past two days have been near impossible. Their movement patterns appear unpredictable - they have spent long periods resting, followed by short bursts of activity when they moved vast distances, crossing mountains, gravel plains and dunes. They have currently disappeared and an enormous effort is being made to locate them. Updated versions of Funding Needs and the 2009/2010 Budget have been uploaded. New movement animations are available for the Hoanib Male.

Xpl-10 and a sub-adult lioness
The Floodplain lions resting in a narrow gorge
Xpl-56 in bright moonlight on the Floodplain

9 Aug 2009. Success in the upper Hoanib River. The Hoanib Male (Xpl-3) and the two radio-collared lionesses (Xpl-47 & 57) of the Hoanib Pride were tracked, located and observed within a single day. These lions are rarely located and spotted in such a short time span.

Ostriches near the Mudorib River
Xpl-47 & 57 spotted with binoculars on a ridge
Adolf (Xpl-3) feeding on an oryx carcass

6-8 Aug 2009. Hoanib Floodplain monitoring. Xpl-10 and her group were tracked and observed for several days. They hunted extensively during the early morning hours on 6 Aug 09 and an elaborative co-operative hunt on a group of four adult giraffes were reconstructed on the northern banks of the Hoanib. Xpl-25 separated from the group on 7 Aug 09 and she was located close to just south of Auses Spring. New GPS-collar movement animations are available for the Hoanib Male & the Hoanib Floodplain Pride.

Young giraffe in lower Hoanib
Xpl-56 on the Floodplain
Sub-adult lioness at dusk on the western floodplains

5 Aug 2009. Website update. Some sections of the website have been modified (e.g. News and GPS collars) and the following pages have been updated: Funding, Statistics, Camera Trap, Cruiser, Gallery, GPS collar movement animations - Hoanib Male (Xpl-3), Hoanib Floodplain (Xpl-10), Hoanib lioness (Xpl-47).

Cape fox in Hoanib - See Camera Trap
Elephant bul in lower Hoanib
Giraffes at Hoanib/Mudorib junction

4 Aug 2009. Floodplain lions. Locate the Hoanib Floodplain lions north of the Hoanib River inside the Skeleton Coast Park. The lions were observed briefly before strong westerly winds and dust storms caused them to take cover in rock shelters.

Unique rock south of the Floodplain
Xpl-55 & 56 moving north of the Hoanib Floodplain

3 Aug 2007. Hoanib Floodplain. By nightfall the search for Xpl-25 and the other the Hoanib Floodplain lions had not produced any results. New movement animations are available for the Hoanib Male and Xpl-10. Parts of this website is currently under revision and reconstruction. Some pages (such as earlier NEWS sections and GPS collar pages) may not load during the following two days, but the modifications will be fully implemented by 5 August 2009.

Oryx and a black-backed jackal observed along the southern edge of the Hoanib Floodplain.

1 Aug 2007. Dart Xpl-57. A sub-adult female (Xpl-57) was darted in the lower Hoanib River and fitted with a VHF radio collar. The medical supplies donated by Peter Sander were used with good results.