NEWS 2010


October 2010

29 Oct 2010. Xpl-73. The Hoanib Floodplain lions and the Hunkap male ("Rosh", Xpl-73) were seen briefly at dusk on the north side of the Hoanib River, before they moved towards Sima Hill.

28 Oct 2010. Mowe Bay. A camera trap was placed in the narrow gorge at Amp's Poort and several images of baboons and elephants were captured. The Hoanib Floodplain lions moved west and were observed on the north-bank of the floodplain. Mowe Bay was visitied to meet with the Park Wardens (Gerson Somaeb & Joshua Kazeurua). I was informed that the research/filming house may soon be available and that they have approved the application for the Desert Lion Project to use it as a base. Updates have been made to the SPONORS page to acknowledge recent support the Project.

Images from the camera trap at Amp's Poort
Two lionesses & the male (Xpl-73) Xpl-55 & 69, the two young lionesses of the Floodplain Pride
The research/filming house at Mowe Bay

27 Oct 2010. Xpl-55 & Xpl-73. The "courtship" behaviour between the young lioness (Xpl-55) and the Hunkap male (Xpl-73) continued throughout the night and today. But they have not yet copulated.

26 Oct 2010. New male. The Hoanib Floodplain lions and the Hunkap male (Xpl-73 / "Rosh") were located late this afternoon on the western edge of the floodplain. The presence of an adult male lion amongst the lionesses have possibly stimulated Xpl-55, now 3 years and 10 months old, to go into her first oestrous cycle (see photos below).

25 Oct 2010. Hunkap Male. The Hoanib Floodplain was surveyed in detail and at sundown the Floodplain Pride were located just west of Amp's Poort. To great surprise they had been joined by the recently marked Hunkap male, Xpl-73 ("Rosh"). He was last observed at the Hunkap Spring on 20 Sep 2010. Many hours were spent downloading the location data from both the GPS collars of "Rosh" and Xpl-10.

23/24 Oct 2010. Hoanib Floodplain. During the return trip to the Hoanib River a potentially disastrous electrical problem occurred when a contact switch failed. But the fuse-structure that was built into the solar power system, saved the day. Repairs were made and the trip to resume active field work continued. The camera trap on the Hoanib Floodplain was recovered and it contained many interesting images of brown hyaenas. Efforts to do the final field-settings of the new sound system (e.g. select the best frequency crossover points & set the sound pressure levels) have been complicated by strong winds.

22 Oct 2010. Vehicle improvements completed. The modifications and work on the Land Cruiser has been completed. The solar power system (see diagram on 10 Oct 2010) was connected up and all the electrical points, including the new sound system, were checked. Field work will now resume. The time invested in building the new sound system, improving the electrical system and the layout inside the cab of the vehicle was necessary. It will make the vehicle and the Project more effective

19-21 Oct 2010. Electrical revamp. Final touches to the sound system were completed and the speaker box was mounted of the roof rack of the Land Cruiser. Attention was focused on the electrical layout in the vehicle. A control panel with switches, plugs and fuses were mounted next to the driver's seat and all the wiring was redone.

17/18 Oct 2010. Vehicle progress - 3. The final structure was mounted in the Land Cruiser (photos: left & middle). However, the design had a significant error that only became apparent when all the components were connected inside the cab of the vehicle. A full day was spent on alterations to repair the mistake. A new and improved electrical layout, with power supply to the computers, sound system, lights, etc., and management of the solar power system is currently underway (photo: right). A total of 138 hours have thus far been invested in the vehicle modifications.

15/16 Oct 2010. Time versus money. The first of two units was completed and has been mounted in the Land Cruiser (left photo) and the second unit is almost finished (b&w photos, captured by a camera trap). The construction has taken a lot of time, but it has undoubtedly saved the Project a lot of money.

14 Oct 2010. Vehicle progress - 2. Long and grinding hours have been invested in building the modifications to the Land Cruiser. The work is nearing completion.

12 Oct 2010. Vehicle progress. Building the new structure inside the cab of the Land Cruiser has been more complicated than anticipated. The design had to be changed several times to cater for all the requirements.

11 Oct 2010. Vehicle modifications. To accommodate the new sound system, dart gun and a few other recent developments, the entire layout of the Land Cruiser's cab had to be re-designed. The construction of the new layout is currently being built and installed.

10 Oct 2010. New sound system. Many hours have been invested in the design and building of a new sound system for lion playbacks. The first sound check was done this morning and the results were exceptional.

9 Oct 2010. Unexpected donation. A new and improved sound system for lion playbacks is currently being constructed.The system is being designed to accommodate the specific frequencies of lion vocalisations. Swakop Kitchens & Joinery were approached to build the speaker box and amplifier control unit. An amount of N$ 2,000 was budgeted to cover the costs. However, when we collected the boxes, Ferdi & Niel du Toit informed us that they wish to sponsor the Desert Lion Project by providing the boxes free of charge (see Sponsors).

7/8 Oct 2010. Holder Family. A significant donation was received from the Holder family, following a brief meeting at Skeleton Coast Camp (Wilderness Safaris) on 27/28 Sep 2010 (see News - September 2010). Many problems were experienced recently with dart failures and sub-standard performance of the darting system currently used by the Project. For example, during the visit by the Holders, the two Hoaruseb lionesses ("Tawny" & "Morada") had to be darted several times in order to work with them and change their fading radio collars. The Holder family purchased a new Dan-Inject dart gun and shipped it to Namibia. The new dart gun arrived yesterday. The Holder family are thanked for this donation (see Sponsors).

Dillon Holder assisting with blood samples at Khumib Camp
Inspecting the new Dan-Inject dart gun

6 Oct 2010. Maintenance. The efforts to solve the lion problems at Bergsig, that ended in the shooting of Xpl-66, drained resources and energy. Two new BFG tires were destroyed in the process and electronic problems developed with the sound system. A few days are being invested in repairing equipment before resuming fieldwork.

1 Oct 2010. Lion shot at Bergsig. The problems at Bergsig had escalated during the past few days and it became a threat to the safety of the community. The Bergsig community received approval from the Ministry of Environment & Tourism to shoot the main culprit. During the night Xpl-66 ("Trompie") returned and was shot inside the village.

Xpl-66, aged 1.6 years, shot at Bersig
First photo of Xpl-66 (2 months) with Xpl-36
Xpl- 66 at 7 months old