NEWS 2010


November 2010

30 Nov 2010. Cape Town Talk. The feedback presentation was given to a group of approximately 200 people. Etienne & Anne-Marie Bruwer and Lizette Jenkins are thanked for their support in arranging the event. Hannes Lochner is thanked for a donation of R 5000 that was generated from the sales of his latest photographic book (see link). Adolf Huester sponsored the flight to Cape Town and 500 Desert Lion stickers that were handed out at the venue. Many individuals, in particular: Eden Human (Die Burger), Drs. Freddie Senekal & Nathanie Naude (in-kind support & donations), Bernd & Frauke Sander, Elzette du Preez (De Grendel wine estate) & Stephanus du Plessis (computer support), went out of their way to assist and support the project.

Adolf Huester, Etienne & Anne-Marie Bruwer and Pieter Meiring (photo: Eden Human) Opening slide of presentation

25 Nov 2010. Damaged GPS collar. The GPS radio collar fitted to Xpl-20 at Hobatere on 24 April 2010 (photos below left: 1, 2 & 3 by Sean Braine) was damaged badly when it was removed from the lion after he was shot on 6 Oct 2010. Followit, the supplier of the GPS collar, evaluated the damage (photo far right) and concluded that it must be returned to them in Sweden. Repairs to the collar will amount to € 893 (excluding the courier costs).

23 Nov 2010. Presentations. Field work was stopped to have repairs done to the Land Cruiser and to prepare for two presentations on the Desert Lion Project. The first will take place in Cape Town on 27 Nov 2010 (to give feedback on the fundraiser that was held in February 2010) and the second in Swakomund on 4 Dec 2010. Updates to this web site will therefore be less frequent during the next few weeks.

22 Nov 2010. Hobatere male. The trophy hunting of Xpl-20, the Hobatere male, on 6 Oct 2010 has generated a lot of public interest. Even though it appears that there was a legal permit, the shooting of Xpl-20, an important attraction to tourist visiting Namibia for more than five years, has been criticised widely. The hunters apparently claim that the collar was not visible, yet the photo (bottom left) taken by Dieter Risse on 3 Oct 2010, clearly shows the collar. Xpl-20 was born in Aug 2000. He was first radio-collared on 10 Dec 2001 and his life-time home range was 4,251 sqr km (map - central). Large numbers of tourists visited Hobatere Lodge during the period of Xpl-20's reign (graph - far right). The statistics also revealed that Xpl-20 was observed and photographed by 8,369 tourists.

21 Nov 2010. Mobile. With advise from JB Auto Repairs and Adolf Huester, the electrical problems with the Land Cruiser were repaired. The exhaust on the vehicle has started disintegrating. It has been welded and repaired many times and needs to be replaced. Observations on the lions had to be stopped because of the noise generated by the faulty exhaust. A rare sighting of two honey badgers was enjoyed near the Hunkap River.

20 Nov 2010. Xpl-56. All available options to find Xpl-56 (see left & middle photos below - taken shortly before leaving his natal Hoanib Floodplain Pride) have been exhausted. The Hoanib Floodplain lionesses, accompanied by Xpl-73 ("Rosh" - photo on right), are still in the dune area near Mowe Bay.

19 Nov 2010. No excuses. An effort was made yesterday to give a balanced view of the problems and realities surrounding the conflict between people and lions. However, the possibility that Xpl-56 was killed and the satellite collar destroyed is a serious problem that cannot be justified or excused by the comments made. During ongoing the efforts to locate Xpl-56, the rest of the Hoanib Floodplain lions, including Xpl73 "Rosh", were located crossing the dunes to Mowe Bay. The Land Cruiser developed electrical and mechanical problems due to the rough conditions. With assistance (via email) from the Land Cruiser Club of SA, the problems are being attended to.

18 Nov 2010. People & Lions. Desert-adapted lions are important to tourism in Namibia. Because of the unique and spectacular landscapes in which they live, the lions attract many foreign tourists to Namibia. Whilst these lions may be an attraction to tourists, the rural communities that share their land with the lions, do not view them that favourably. The owners of livestock may suffer losses when lions prey on cattle or donkeys, and many people, especially those in the smaller and remote villages, live in fear of the lions. Despite progressive community-based conservation programmes and financial benefits from the tourism industry going into the communal conservancy structure, the people in remote villages and the individual livestock farmer still regard wildlife resources, such as lions, as a nuisance. This background information may partially explain the killing on the young lioness (Xpl-58) and the unresolved case of the Hoanib Floodplain male (Xpl-56). Extensive efforts and resources have been dedicated to finding out what happened to Xpl-56. An accurate movement animation is presented below of Xpl-56 (red dot) for the last 5 days before he disappeared. Xpl-56 was in the company of Xpl-72 (blue dot) of the Hoanib 70's group. Immediately after the satellite GPS collar of Xpl-56 stopped working, the 70's lionesses rapidly vacated the area. Although there is no conclusive evidence, the most logical hypothesis is that the lion was killed and that the satellite collar was destroyed. The route that was walked to search for Xpl-56 in the narrow gorges and caves is shown on the satellite map (top right).

17 Nov 2010. Difficult situation. Despite any concrete evidence (as of yet) all the available information suggest that the Hoanib Floodplain male (Xpl-56) was shot or poisoned by local farmers in the eastern section of the Purros Conservancy. More thunder storms and rain in the area hampered the investigation. Peter Sander, Detlef Klein (& freinds) from Swakopmund visited the area with two small aircraft and Detlef Klein kindly assisted with aerial radio tracking of Xpl-56. Despite these efforts, the lion could not be located. There are currently three possible explanations: 1) there was a total malfunction of the satellite GPS collar and that the lion is still alive (highly unlikely), 2) the lion was poisoned, trapped or shot and died in a cave (possible, but given the extensive search efforts, also unlikely), and 3) the lion was killed and the satellite GPS collar destroyed (a disturbing hypothesis, but currently the most realistic explanation). Note: the dates quoted on 16 Nov 2010 were wrong and have been corrected.

16 Nov 2010. Possible death of another male lion. The likelihood that the Hoanib Floodplain male lion was killed is high. On 3 Nov 2010 his satellite GPS collar stopped sending data to the Televilt server in Sweden. At first there was not much concern, because lions occasionally move into caves or enclosed areas where the collar does not have a clear enough view of the sky to connect to satellites. The data downloaded yesterday form Xpl-72's GPS collar provided valuable additional information. As luck would have it, Xpl-56 was with the 70's lionesses when the last position was recorded at 05h00 on 3 Nov 2010, a few kilometres from a village where there are large numbers of livestock. During two meetings with the residents of the village, they confirmed that a lion has not been shot or killed. Many hours were spent walking in the mountains, through narrow gorges and into caves, searching for Xpl-56, or any signs of what might have happened. Unfortunately the rainfall of last night covered most of the tracks and complicated the search.

14/15 Nov 2010. Concern at Okongwe. During the past two days the humidity increased, clouds started building from early afternoon and the first rain storms of the season were encountered near Okongwe. The satellite GPS collar of the young male (Xpl-56, of the Hoanib Floodplain Pride) stopped sending emails a few days ago. Efforts are underway to locate him. He joined the Hoanib 70's group in the northern section of the Okongwe area a few weeks ago. The "70's" (Xpl-70, 71 & 72) were located at sundown, but Xpl-56 was not with them.

13 Nov 2010. Dart Xpl-61. The young Hoaruseb lioness ("Maya") was darted this evening and her broken radio collar was replaced. This was the first darting where the new sound system and the new Dan-inject dart gun (donated by the Holder family - 8 Oct 2010) was used. Wilderness Safaris staff from Skeleton Coast Camp assisted with the event.

12 Nov 2010. Hoaruseb. Efforts are underway to locate the Hoaruseb Pride. The young lioness (Xpl-61, "Maya") needs to be darted to replace her radio collar. During the recent visit by the Land Cruiser Club of Southern Africa, Mr Jan Slabber donated to the Project a special devise he designed using the blade of a plough - it functions as a base-plate when the vehicle needs to be jacked-up in soft sand or mud (see Sponsors). The devise was used to great success yesterday when the Land Cruiser got bogged-down in the dunes (photos: far right by E Verwey).

11 Nov 2010. Surprise movements. The Hoanib Floodplain lions and the male, Xpl-73, were left amongst the dunes near the Hoanib mouth on 2/3 Nov 2010 to go and investigate the shooting of the Hobatere male (Xpl-20). When arriving back in the area late on 8 Nov 2010, the same lions were found near Auses Spring. However, during the trip down the Hoanib River, the tracks of an adult male was picked-up at several locations. When Xpl-73 was found to still be with the Floodplain pride, the need to search for the "unknown" male in the Hoanib River became a priority. Shortly before embarking on this mission, the position data were downloaded from the GPS collars of both Xpl-10 and Xpl-73. The results reveal a shocking surprise and once again demonstrate the incredible value of the GPS collars. To view a movement animation of the results click the play button (bottom left) - the blue icon displays the movements of Xpl-10 and the red icon is Xpl-73.

10 Nov 2010. Auses Spring. The Hoanib Floodplain lions were located at Auses Spring last night. At sunrise they moved over the dunes onto the floodplain. After the fog cleared, the lionesses started hunting and Xpl-10 killed a springbok. The male (Xpl-73) stole the carcass, but not after some resistance from Xpl-10.

9 Nov 2010. Hoanib lion killed. The young lioness (Xpl-58) of the Hoanib Pride has been killed. Presumably because of raiding livestock - although there has not been any reports of lion problems in this area. On return from Hobatere late last night, the radio signal of Xpl-58 was picked-up. Early this morning it was confirmed that she had been killed by people, approximately 4 km east of Elephant Song campsite in the Hoanib River. The tracks indicate that she took refuge in a dense Salvadora bush (photo: bottom left) where she was killed. Xpl-57 (the sister of Xpl-58) is still alive and was found near Elephant Song campsite. Repairs and upgrading of the two water installations in the Hoanib River (at the Ganamub Poort & the Mudorib junction) have been completed. The Ministry of Environment & Tourism must be commended for a job well done (photos below).

8 Nov 2010. Clarification. Because of unfair and uninformed criticism, it has become necessary to make the following statement. Desert Lion Conservation is not anti-hunting. The information presented on this website is not aimed at subjectively discrediting the trophy hunting industry. However, the reports on recent events (e.g. the shooting of Xpl-48, Xpl-44 & Xpl-20, and the report on male-biased mortality) do reveal negative impacts of trophy hunting on the long-term conservation and sustainable utilisation of the desert lion population. This website aims to present only factual information and a concerted effort is made to remain objective and refrain from value judgements and opinions. Hunting is an important part of wildlife conservation in Namibia and Desert Lion Conservation has a track-record of contributing towards sustainable hunting structures. The current situation of unsustainable hunting of adult male lions and the correspondingly negative impact on the non-consumptive tourism industry in Namibia is a serious problem.

Some of the remaining lions of the Hobatere Pride Xpl-22 (March 2007, by Louise Braine)

7 Nov 2010. Black mane. Much progress has been made in retrieving and analysing the data from Xpl-20's GPS collar. The lion was shot on 5/6 Oct 2010, but the specific date/time has yet to be confirmed. The inscription on the GPS collar is clearly readable (bottom photo). Hobatere Lodge and the Desert Lion Project was first informed of the "possible" shooting of Xpl-20 by a third and independent party on 1 Nov 2010. This afternoon time was spent monitoring the remainder of the Hobatere Pride. It was pleasing to notice that a two-year old male cub (photos: below right), mostly likely fathered by Xpl-20 (photos: 1st & 2nd from left by Louise Braine), is already showing signs of the black mane.

6 Nov 2010. GPS collar of Xpl-20. An email was received late last night from Louise Braine of Hobatere Lodge that they had retrieved the GPS collar of Xpl-20. Hobatere Lodge was reached after a 8-hour drive. Disappointingly, the GPS radio collar had been severely damaged during the shooting of the lion or when it was removed from Xpl-20 (see photos below). Efforts are currently underway to retrieve the location data stored on the collar.

5 Nov 2010. Vehicle repairs. The Floodplain lions moved into an inaccessible area towards Terrace Bay. Time was taken to repair the Land Cruiser, after falling into a sink-hole on 3 Nov 2010. Members of the Land Cruiser Club of Southern Africa visited the project briefly whilst accompanying Mr Takeshie Namba (making a film on Land Cruisers for Toyota, Japan). Jan Slabber and Allan Weber (and several other LCCSA members) assisted with the differential problem. The exhaust was repaired at the Desert Rhino Camp (Wilderness Safaris) - thanks goes to Emsie Verwey for logistical support and to Dries Liebenberg for welding the exhaust. In collaboration with Hobatere Lodge, the investigation into the shooting of Xpl-20 is ongoing.

4 Nov 2010. NEWS FLASH !!! Confirmation has just been received that the Hobatere male (Xpl-20) has been shot for trophy hunting in the Ehirovipuka Conservancy, north of Hobatere. The GPS collar that was fitted to Xpl-20 on 24 Apr 2010 (see April News) is currently with the Ministry of Environment & Tourism in Opuwa. The incident will be investigated and the facts will be presented here during the next few days. Following in the wake of the shooting of Xpl-44 ("Leonardo"), this is a big blow to the lion population and to tourism in Namibia. Xpl-20 was not a "problem lion". In fact, he was habituated for tourism and was observed and photographed by thousands of tourists for the past 5 to 6 years. (Photo: bottom left - D Braine)

3 Nov 2010. Vehicle problems. At some time during the night Xpl-10 (the "Queen") moved off and by sunrise she could not be located. The remaining lions (Xpl-73 and the two young females) were still west of Oasis Spring at midday. But between 15h00 and 16h00 they suddenly moved southward and radio-telemetry contact with them was lost. In an attempt to follow the lions in the rough terrain, the Land Cruiser developed a problem with the front differential and the observations had to be stopped.

2 Nov 2010. Oasis Spring. During the night the Floodplain lions reached Oasis Spring (see panoramic photo - top) and they were observed lying on the northern edge (see red circles - bottom/middle photo).

1 Nov 2010. Dune hunting. The three Floodplain lionesses and the Hunkap male (Xpl-73) are still in the area just south of Mowe Bay. They have been observed hunting amongst the dunes and hummocks. The hunts were all directed at the three available prey species: oryx, springbok and ostrich.