News - December 2011

Dec

31 Dec 2011. Lions at Auses. Two Floodplain lionesses were located at Auses spring. It is suspected that the two lionesses gave birth and they are keeping their cubs amongst the thick vegetation at the bottom of Auses spring. Several indicators and the fact that both lionesses mated with Xpl-73 ("Rosh") during August/September 2011 (photo: far left) support this hypothesis. A camera-trap was mounted near Auses spring to monitor movements by lions.

27 Dec 2011. Hoanib River. The Hoaruseb River came down in flood yesterday and crossing at the mouth of the River was impossible due to the volume of water flowing into the ocean. One of the Hoanib Floodplain lionesses were observed briefly on the edge of the dunes in the Hoanib River. There has not yet been any signs of flooding along the lower section of the Hoanib River.

25 Dec 2011. Mowe Bay Cabin. The past few days were spent with my parents at Mowe Bay.

21 Dec 2011. Uniab Mouth. A camera-trap was mounted at the mouth of the Uniab River a few weeks ago to monitor the possible movements of the Obab Pride along the coast. The camera was retrieved earlier today and 98 images were downloaded. There were several interesting photographs of antelopes and black-backed jackals, but none of lions.

19 Dec 2011. Solar Power. A break-through was made today towards repairing the electrical/electronic problem experienced with the radio-telemetry and sound-playback systems. A defect was identified in the wiring of the solar power structure and it has subsequently been fixed. Several interesting images of brown hyaenas and a striped polecat were recorded by a camera-trap on the Hoanib Floodplain.

17 Dec 2011. Tracks. There is a unique rock formation several kilometres south of the Hoanib Floodplain that resembles an imaginary "space-ship". Photographs of this geological phenomenon have been presented on this website. Very few people have visited the rock formation (they did so by walking the distance) because the terrain is incredibly sensitive and vehicle tracks will leave a long-lasting scar on the landscape. A few weeks ago two vehicles entered the Skeleton Coast Park illegally and drove directly to the rock formation, and to make matters worse, they made a new set of tracks on their return journey (see photos: top - red lines, bottom left & right). These vehicle tracks have scarred the pristine landscape and will be visible for many decades.

14 Dec 2011. Break. Fieldwork has been stopped to give attention to important private matters, and to address the recent technical problems experienced with the radio-telemetry and sound-playback systems. A camera-trap on the Hoanib Floodplain recorded the following images of the three Floodplain lionesses on 11 Dec 2011.

13 Dec 2011. Floodplain. After the failed hunting attempts on oryx, the Floodplain lionesses moved westwards towards the coast. Several Marsh owls were observed on the Hoanib Floodplain during the early morning hours.

12 Dec 2011. Electronic problem. Efforts to search for the Hoanib lionesses had to be abandoned because of an electronic problem that is influencing both the radio-telemetry equipment and the sound system on the field vehicle. Despite several efforts since 3 Dec 2011 it could not yet be repaired. A big effort will now be required to isolate the problem. The Hoanib Floodplain lions were spotted on the southern edge of the Floodplain and they were observed hunting a group of oryx.

11 Dec 2011. Full Moon. Xpl-73 was observed for most of the day. With the rising of the full moon, Xpl-73 started roaring. It is possible that he detected the Floodplain lionesses that were several kilometres to the West and he set off to find them. Attention was then turned to the eastern section of the Hoanib River in search of the Hoanib lionesses. *Moment*.

10 Dec 2011. "Rosh". The movement patterns, behaviour and tracks of the Floodplain male (Xpl-73) suggest that he has been associating with lionesses of the Hoanib Pride. He is currently alone, but hopes are that he will meet up with the Hoanib lionesses during the next few days.

9 Dec 2011. Hunting. The Floodplain lionesses were located between the Hunkap and the Hoanib Rivers. They were hunting for oryx amongst the rocky outcrops. Several hunts were observed at sunset and in the moonlight during the early part of the night.

8 Dec 2011. Lionesses mating. It has been confirmed that the two Obab lionesses in the lower Uniab River have lost their cubs. Both females are in oestrous and were observed mating with Xpl-54 - the Obab Pride male.

7 Dec 2011. Obab females. Two lionesses of the Obab Pride were observed and photographed in the lower Uniab River by MIchael Katjau (photos below). Michael is the Warden based at Springbokwasser (MInistry of Environment & Tourism). The sighting and photographs are valuable, following the observations on 23/24 Nov 2011 (see News - Nov 2011).

5 Dec 2011. Floodplain lionesses. Isolating the problem with the radio-telemetry equipment on the Land Cruiser has been difficult. Electronic interference from the vehicle prevented the detection of radio-telemetry signals on the receiver and all the cables and connectors have been replaced. A camera-trap on the western edge of the Hoanib Floodplain captured images of all three Floodplain lionesses. They moved through the dune-belt towards the coast, but they could not be located near the mouth of the Hoanib River.

3 Dec 2011. Radio-telemetry. A problem developed with the radio-telemetry equipment on the Land Cruiser. The entire telemetry set-up, including the antennae, cables and connectors, have been dismantled in search of the problem. All the external cables and connectors were badly corroded. These problems were repaired, but the rest of the system will be inspected and serviced during the next few days. The coastal areas around the Uniab, Koigab, Huab (see animation below) and Ugab Rivers were scanned for recent signs of lion movements. *Moment*.

1 Dec 2011. Camera-traps. The photographs captured by camera-traps are providing valuable information on lion movements, records of other carnivores and unique images of other wildlife species. However, the cameras are subject to theft and vandalism - mostly by people (see NEWS - 25 Nov 2011). But occasionally elephants, lions, hyaenas and even birds take a dislike in the cameras. A camera-trap south of the Hoanib Floodplain was bitten and dislodged from its mounting by a brown hyaena (see photos: middle left & right). Despite being dislodged, the camera still recorded a rare photo of a striped polecat (photo: far right).