NEWS 2009


December 2009

31 Dec 2009. Last effort of the year. After loosing the signal of Charlotte (Xpl-53) and their tracks, the search for the Floodplain lions continued. Most of the major drainage lines south of the Hoanib River, including the Karugaiseb and Hunkap rivers, were surveyed. At dusk, Xpl-22 and four sub-adult lions (Obab Pride) were spotted in the Hunkap area. They were observed for short while and then the search for the Floodplain lions continued.

30 Dec 2009. Searching. The gravel plains and sand dunes to the south of the Floodplain were scanned for spoor and radio signals. A faint signal from the GPS collar of Charlotte (Xpl-53) was heard and the spoor of several lionesses and large cubs were found, including the remains of a porcupine that they had killed a few days ago. The difficult terrain restricted the search effort and the lions disappeared.

An immature Pale Chanting Goshawk
Remains of a porcupine killed by lions
In flight...

29 Dec 2008. Hoanib Floodplain. An effort to locate Xpl-10 and the rest of the Floodplain Pride was extended up to the dunes west of the Floodplain, but there were no signs of the lions. There are also very few oryx and other suitable prey animals in the area. The camera trap, positioned on the floodplain, was found lying on the ground and had been turned off. When the images and video clips were downloaded, it reveal how a person (photo below) removed the camera from its mounting and tampered with it.

A secretary bird on the Hoanib Floodplain
A giraffe captured by the camera trap
The person approaching the camera

28 Dec 2008. Observe Hoanib lions. Three adult lionesses and four sub-adults were observed for 20 hours. They killed two sub-adult oryx between midnight and 04h00, and by 08h00 they had consumed both carcasses.

27 Dec 2008. Hoanib Pride. The spoor of an adult male lion was found in the Hoanib River. The male might have moved in after the death of "Adolf" (Xpl-3). Whilst attempting to find this male, seven lions of the Hoanib Pride, including "Bianca" (Xpl-47), were located. They approach the Cruiser and one of the sub-adult females touched the vehicle lightly with her nose.

26 Dec 2009. New Mac for Project. For more than six years the data management, data analyses, writing of reports and publications, video editing, graphic design and website management for the Desert Lion Conservation Project were done using a Mac PowerBook G4 (1.5 GHz). Since it was purchased in May 2003, this computer worked tirelessly and was never turned off for approximately 80% of the time. This amounts to over 45,000 hours of faultless operation, which is remarkable considering the atrocious desert conditions. The only problem occurred when the SuperDrive (DVD writer) failed towards the end of 2008. With the development of new graphic and website design programmes, however, the need for a new and more powerful computer became necessary. During 2008, Nathalie Cadot and Felix Vallat initiated a fundraising campaign in France, entitled "Apple 4 Lions". Within a few months they had raised sufficient funds for a new Mac. The funds were transferred to a mutual friend, Rob Roy Ramey, in the USA. Rob shopped around and finally purchases a good second-hand MacBook Pro (2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo) with the available funds. See Sponsors for more detail.

25 Dec 2009. Water problems in the Hoanib. Elephants have destroyed the artificial water installation at the Mudorib junction (photos by Eva Ramey). The water tanks were demolished and the solar pump has been damaged, but can be repaired. A small group of sub-adult lions (from the Hoanib Pride) were located a few kilometres south of damaged waterhole.

24 Dec 2009. Obab lions. "Nina" (Xpl-49) and here group were located in the lower Uniab River, approximately 20 kms from the coast.

23 Dec 2009. Search for Hunkap lions. The western sections of the Samanab and Hunkap rivers were covered in search of the Hunkap lions. Two adult male cheetahs were spotted, but there were no signs of the lions.

21 Dec 2009. Logistical problems. Vehicle problems and the failure of a prior arrangement to have petrol delivered in the field have restricted fieldwork. Problems connecting to the Internet have prevented the regular updates of the website.

14 Dec 2009. Hoaruseb lions behave. A few days were spent at Hobatere Lodge, but the movements of the Hoaruseb lions were monitored by the Purros Lion Officers and the satellite GPS collar, fitted to the male (Xpl-44). During the past week the Hoaruseb lions have not returned to Puros. See movement animation for Xpl-44 during a six-day period (below). Click on the PLAY button to start the animation. The timeline is constant at 7.5 seconds per day (24 hrs). Black and yellow bars indicate night and daytime, respectively, on the timeline. When the red lion icon moves quickly across the screen, it accurately represents the speed at which the lion moves.

8 Dec 2009. End of an era.
The death of the Hoanib Male (Xpl-3 or "Adolf") marks the end of an era. Xpl-3 was born in September 1998 near the Aub Canyon. Along with four siblings, he emigrated from the Aub/Barab area to the Hoanib & Hoaruseb Rivers between 2001 & 2002 (see animation on the right). Xpl-3 died from bullet wounds on 21 Nov 2009. The investigation into his death is ongoing.


Animation of how the home range of Xpl-3 changed between 2000 and 2009 (right).






Images of Xpl-3 (below).

November 1999
March 2000
August 2001 - Clay Castles
December 2004
August 2007
May 2008
Novwnbwe 2008 (Laura Brown)
February 2009
May 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009

7 Dec 2009. Hoaruseb lions explore. The two Hoaruseb lionesses (Xpl-37 & 38) were observed hunting in the dunes north of Ganias Spring this morning. This is the first significant movement out of the Hoaruseb river since the translocations during November 2009.

6 Dec 2009. Dune walking. The Hoaruseb lions moved into the dunes south of the Clay Castles. "Morado" (Xpl-37 and "Tawny" (Xpl-38) pursued a herd of oryx and several ostriches, and they were located 18 km south of the Hoaruseb River at 03h00 this morning. The large cubs stayed behind and played the dunes near the river.

5 Dec 2009. Tawny. After 48 hours bogged-down in quicksand the Land Cruiser was pulled out of the mud this morning by a tractor. Wilderness Safaris are thanked for their help in getting the vehicle out. The Hoaruseb lionesses (including "Tawny", Xpl-38) and the three large cubs were located inside the Skeleton Coast Park. The threat of Human Lion Conflict at Purros have for the immediate future been resolved.

The Purros Lion Officers in their new uniforms
Tawny (Xpl-38) in the lower Hoaruseb River
Getting the Land Cruiser out of the quicksand (photos: Emsie Verwey & Eva Ramey)

4 Dec 2009. Dart & fit satellite collar to Xpl-44. After 107 hours, the Hoaruseb lion (Xpl-44) was finally darted, and the satellite GPS colar fitted to him.

Xpl-44 shortly after being darted

Eva & Anika Ramey with the darted lion (R Ramey)

Monitoring Xpl-44 (R Ramey)

3 Dec 2009. 32 hours. The effort to dart Xpl-44 and fit the satellite GPS collar continues. The Land Cruiser got bogged-down in soft quicksand yesterday morning (32 hours ago), shortly after a bait, drugged with anaesthetics, was set out for the lion. He took the bait during the early morning hours, and has been prowling around the vehicle. Hopes are that an opportunity will present itself for the lion to be darted, that the collar can be fitted, and that the Cruiser can then be freed from it's muddy prison.

2 Dec 2009. 64 hours. The disturbance to the Hoaruseb lions during the past month has caused the adult male (Xpl-44) to become extremely skittish. An enormous effort, currently tallying 64 hours without any sleep, have been invested in an attempt to dart Xpl-44 and to fit a satellite GPS collar.

1 Dec 2009. Xpl-44. After the death of the Hoanib Male (Xpl-3) it was decided to fit his satellite GPS collar to the Hoaruseb male (Xpl-44). He was located 3 km west of Purros and as soon as it was dark an attempt was made to immobilise him. What would normally be a standard two-hour exercise became a nightlong struggle. Two darts, from a new batch, failed to inject the anaesthetics.

Xpl-44 after the second dart failure
The moon setting at 06h40
Elephants approaching at sunrise