News - January 2011

Jan

31 Jan 2011. Brown hyaena action. Xpl-10 of the Floodplain Pride returned to the Hoanib River last night. She was on her own; the two young lionesses (Xpl-55 & 60) that are due to give birth, could not be located. Xpl-10 met with "Rosh" (Xpl-73) and they moved towards the floodplain. The camera trap was recovered from the brown hyaena den late this morning. A total of 1327 images were captured. There is a mountain of information to decipher about the activities at the den (for each photo the date and time has been recorded). Below are a few images that were captured (move your mouse over the bottom right photo).

30 Jan 2011. The Floodplain. Xpl-10 and the two young lionesses are moving in amongst the hills/mountains north of the Hoanib Floodplain (see image below - may take a while to load). It is a vast area that is not accessible by vehicle. Any day now, the two young lionesses (Xpl-55 & 69) should each give birth to their first litter (if they conceived).

29 Jan 2011. Xpl-73. The Floodplain lionesses have not yet returned from their excursion to the gravel plains west of Ganias Spring. "Rosh" (Xpl-73) has been guarding and feeding on his oryx kill in the Hoanib River. Modifications have been made to the main Prides/GPS collar page.

28 Jan 2011. Brown hyaenas. Xpl-73 fed on the oryx carcass all night. The brown hyaena den (see 20 & 25 Jan 2011) was visited this morning to check on the camera trap. From a distance an adult hyaena was spotted at the den and the decision was made not to disturb them. The camera will be retrieved at a later date.

27 Jan 2011. Xpl-73 on oryx carcass. After the elephant incident in the Hoaruseb River, attention was turned to the Hoanib floodplain. During the early morning hours the Floodplain lionesses were found just south of Ganias Spring. Unfortunately observations had to be stopped when they moved westwards. The terrain in that area is sensitive and vehicle tracks will scar the landscape. By mid-morning the signal of Xpl-73 ("Rosh") was picked-up in the Hoanib River. He was located on a fresh oryx kill close to the border of the Skeleton Coast Park.

26 Jan 2011. Cruiser repaired. After extensive searching and dismantling of the vehicle for the past three days, the electrical problem was (hopefully) found and repaired. The cause is believed to be two poorly connected wires running to the alternator. By mid-day the Cruiser was re-assembled and ready to go. The Hoaruseb lionesses were located a few kilometres east of Leyland's Drift and the movement data were downloaded from the GPS collar of Morada (Xpl-37). A small breeding herd of elephants moved down the narrow Hoaruseb canyon and were extremely agitated by the presence of the vehicle. To avoid unnecessary disturbance to the elephants, the observations on the Hoaruseb lionesses were abandoned. It is possible that excessive and uncontrolled tourism in the Hoaruseb River might be the cause of the aggressive behaviour of the elephants. *Moment*

25 Jan 2011. Brown hyaena den. In search of a loose connection, or pinched wire, that may cause the current electrical problems, sections of the Cruiser are systematically being dismantled to gain access to the wiring network. The camera trap at the brown hyaena den (monitored by E Verwey) is capturing valuable and beautiful images of the adults and pups. The next three movement animations of the Hoanib lions (see 23 Jan 2011) have been uploaded and can be viewed under Prides/Hunkap/"Rosh".

24 Jan 2011. Electrical problems. The electrical problem with the vehicle has not yet been solved. Fortunately is was possible to move the vehicle onto the northern bank of the Hoaruseb River and out of danger of flash-floods. Adolf Huester and JB Auro Repairs are providing advice on isolating and fixing the problem. A camera trap (mounted on 10 Nov 2010) was retrieved from the lower Hoaruseb gorge. Unfortunately the batteries failed at the end of November 2010, but it captured a number of interesting images (see photo on far right).

23 Jan 2011. More vehicle problems. Early this afternoon, in the lower Hoaruseb River, the vehicle developed the same electrical problem that occurred on 19 Jan 2011. This is a risky situation. Because of extensive rainfall during the past few days further inland, floodwaters could come down during the night - the breakdown occurred in the middle of the Hoaruseb River. All efforts are focussed on locating and repairing the electrical problem.

23 Jan 2011. Movement animations. The Floodplain lionesses were observed briefly this morning on the western edge of the Hoanib Floodplain. Data on the movements of lions in the Hoanib River, for the past two months, are being analysed to assess the possible impact of the recent adult male mortalities. Below is a synchronised movement animation of the adult male (Xpl-73 "Rosh" - Red icon) and two lionesses (Dark blue icon = Xpl-10, Floodplain Pride; Light blue icon = "Bianca" Xpl-47, Hoanib Pride) for the first 15 days. *Moment*

22 Jan 2011. Floodplain lionesses to give birth? Efforts to follow and observe the Floodplain lionesses last night failed because they continuously moved through thick vegetation and hummocks. The two young lionesses mated with "Rosh" (Xpl-73) between 85 and 95 days ago (left photo by Vincent Henry). If the lionesses conceived, they should be giving birth within the next week to 10 days. This may explain their movement patterns.

21 Jan 2001. Floodplain. A tourist vehicle, without the necessary permit, was encountered deep inside the Skeleton Coast Park. The incident was reported to the Ministry of Environment & Tourism. Tracks were discovered of another vehicle that entered the western section of the Floodplain sometime in late Dec 2010. The vehicle approached from the south-east. To access the Floodplain from this direction (where there are no roads), would require driving across the sensitive gravel plains for 50-100 km (probably from the Hunkap River). These tracks will remain visible and leave a scar on the landscape for many years to come. The Floodplain lionesses (Xpl-10, 55 & 69) were located on the edge of the dunes. They emerged and moved onto the Floodplain after dark. *Moment*

20 Jan 2001. Camera traps. The tracks of a single lioness, presumably Xpl-55, was spotted on the eastern edge of the floodplain. Most of the day was spent retrieving images from several camera traps that were placed on the Floodplain and in the Hoanib River during December 2010. See photos below, including a beautiful image of a steenbok at Amp's Poort (top right). Wllderness Safari's staff from the Hoanib Camp, located a brown hyaena den and the following photos (bottom row) were captured last night.

19 Jan 2011. Vehicle problems. During the night, whilst trying to approach Xpl-10, the vehicle developed an electrical problem and the work had to be abandoned. At first light attempts were made to isolated and repair the problem. The entire day was spent working on the vehicle. During the late afternoon Xpl-69 approached the vehicle, but after a brief inspection, she moved on. With the help of Adolf Huester and JB Auto Repairs (via email & satelitte phone) the problem was found and repaired. By 21h00 the Cruiser was ready to go. The tracks and eventually the radio telemetry signal of "Rosh" (Xpl-73) was picked up and he was located, moving in an easterly direction, between Oasis and Auses. The movement data from his GPS collar were downloaded.

17/18 Jan 2011. Hoanib Mouth. A number of additional changes have been made to the web site and it appears to be running well. During the next few weeks the information and presentation will also be updated. Over the past few days the major ephemeral rivers along the coast, starting at the Messum River and moving northwards, have been surveyed for signs of lion movements. At the Uniab River faint signs (about 2 weeks old) of a single lion was recorded 5 km from the coast. At the mouth of the Hoanib River fresh lion tracks were picked up this afternoon. Xpl-10 and 69 of the Floodplain Pride were located in the hummocks between Oasis and the sea.

16 Jan 2011. Web site update 3. The Land Cruiser has been repaired and active fieldwork has started. A number of problems with the new web site, including the "Submit Form" page have been fixed. The Image Moment page has been modified and photo updates will be flashed in the News section. *Moment*

15 Jan 2011. Web site update 2. Problems were experienced after the web site modifications were uploaded, but these appeared to have been solved. A new "Submit Form" page has been added under the HOME menu. When fully functional, this page will allow visitors to the site to submit comments and information.

14 Jan 2011. Web site update. The technical problems with the upgrading of the web site were overcome. The new site should hopefully be online within the next few hours.

13 Jan 2011. Website problems. Major tecnhnical problems have been experienced with the upgrading of this website. Available resources and long hours are being invested in getting the site up and running again.