News - 2012



31 Oct 2012. Uniab Canyon. The Huab male (Xpl-68) has now discovered the abundant supply of food (Oryx & springbok) in the expansive network of reed-beds and springs that form the Uniab Delta. He walked along the spectacular Uniab Canyon to the mouth of the Uniab River during the night (see panoramic animation below), and then moved 7.2 km to the most southern reed-beds where he killed another Oryx just before sunrise.

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30 Oct 2012. Uniab Delta 2. During the night and early morning the Huab male (Xpl-68) explored the Uniab Delta (see map) where there are large numbers of Oryx and springbok. At a spring next to the main road to Terrace Bay (bottom photos) Xpl-68 killed and consumed a Greater flamingo during the night. He also killed an Oryx on the edge of the reeds near the mouth of the Uniab River.

29 Oct 2012. Uniab Delta. Terrace Bay was reached last night at 01h30 and the Huab male (Xpl-68) was located in the moonlight lying on a dune approximately 3 km east of the restaurant. At 03h00 Xpl-68 crossed the dunes to the east and then headed south. Xpl-68 crossed back over the dunes and arrived at the Uniab Delta at 04h30. It is suspected that he killed an Oryx at one of the springs close to the main road. Lions were often observed at the Uniab Delta during the 1980s. This is the first confirmed return of a lion to the mouth of the Uniab River. Namibia Wildlife Resorts & the staff at Terrace Bay have been informed of the lion and regular updates are provided.

28 Oct 2012. Huab male. During the past two days Xpl-68 (the Huab male) walked 68.3 km. After moving past Terrace Bay (26 Oct 2012) he walked south to the Uniab River, but he turned around last night and appears to be heading back to Terrace Bay. Xpl-73 “Rosh” recovered well from the darting and walked 37.5 km last night to the Okongwe Mountains. Boas Hambo (photos: bottom right) assisted with the immobilisation. He was also present during the first darting of Xpl-73 on 8 Sep 2010 (move mouse over photo).

27 Oct 2012. "Rosh". At 04h09 this morning Xpl-73 was immobilised in the Obias River. His GPS radio was removed and replaced with a new satellite collar from Africa Wildlife Tracking.

26 Oct 2012. Terrace Bay. In 1985 John Patterson (a ranger in the Skeleton Coast Park) witnessed an adult male lion walking along the beach at Terrace Bay. John also photographed the same lion feeding on a beached whale south of Mowe Bay a few weeks earlier (photo: below left). The movements of the Huab male (Xpl-68) past Terrace Bay (map: bottom left) marks the return of lions to the area after an absence of nearly 30 years. Xpl-68 walked along the dune-belt (photos: top & middle right) towards Terrace Bay, but turned inland before reaching the Uniab delta. In the Torra Conservancy, Xpl-36 moved closer to Spaarwater during the night (map: bottom right).

25 Oct 2012. Huab male heading for Terrace Bay. Xpl-36 & the lions that caused problems at Spaarwater moved 18.3 km during the night. They have essentially returned to their home range in the Agab River & Rhino Camp (map: top left). The Huab male (Xpl-68) walked southwards for 49.2 km and at 12h00 (today) he was 18 km north of Terrace Bay. The Hoanib male (Xpl-73 “Rosh”) was located in the Hoanib River near Ganamub Poort (photo: bottom left) and the Floodplain lionesses were observed moving amongst the hummocks & dunes north of Oases spring.

24 Oct 2012. Huab male near coast. Xpl-36 moved 7 km during the night and further away from the conflict area at Spaarwater (map: bottom left). Last night the Huab male (Xpl-68) crossed the dune-belt west of the Hoanib Floodplain for the first time. He is currently 5 km from the mouth of the Hoanib River (map: bottom right).

23 Oct 2012. Lion Tour-guide Training. A training course on approaching and viewing lions for tourism was presented at Fort Sesfontein. Twelve selected individuals from the local conservancies and tour operators attended the course (see photos). Dr M Knoefel & the managers of Fort Sesfontein are thanked for hosting the event and for providing lunch and refreshments. During the night Xpl-36 moved 10 km towards the west (see map) and is now well clear of the conflict area at Spaarwater and the Klip River.

22 Oct 2012. Meeting at Fonteine. A constructive meeting was held earlier today at Fonteine Pos to discuss the current problems of conflict between the lions and livestock farmers. The lions that caused problems in the Klip River and at Spaarwater (Xpl-36 & co.) are still in the same location as yesterday (see map).

21 Oct 2012. Huab lions at risk. When a new pride of lions settled in the Huab River (see 26 Mar 2012 & photos below) after an absence of >20 years, numerous parties (e.g. Wilderness Safaris, IRDNC, Ministry of Environment & Tourism, Tosco, some members of the Torra Conservancy, and several NGOs) became involved to conserve the Huab lions by addressing Human Wildlife Conflict and promoting lion eco-tourism with benefits to the local communities. Despite these efforts the killing of a third cow by the lions in three weeks (see 20 Oct 12) has understandably infuriated the local farmers and spurred suggestions that the lions must be shot. The fact that livestock are still roaming free at night makes for a difficult and unmanageable situation. All the relevant parties will gather at Fonteine Pos on Monday morning to discuss the appropriate cause of action.

Klip River lions. After spending three days feeding on a zebra kill in the mountains, Xpl-36 and her group (n = 3 lions) started moving in a westerly direction towards their normal home range. They reached the Spaarwater village at 01h00 this morning where, according to reports from the Torra Conservancy, they killed two goats. The lions left the Spaarwater area at 02h30 and continued moving west.  At 11h00 this morning they were 8 km west of Spaarwater (see map: bottom right).

20 Oct 2012. Crisis in the Huab River. Attention was turned to the Huab River because Xpl-36 moved away from the conflict area in the Klip River (see map below). At 03h00 this morning the two Huab females (Xpl-75 & 76) and their eight cubs killed an adult cow on the southern edge of the Huab River and 4 km south of Slangpos (photos below).

19 Oct 2012. Monitoring the Klip River. The lions that caused problems at Tweespruit in the Klip River (Xpl-36 and her group) are still at same location as yesterday. In collaboration with the Ministry of Environment & Tourism, many hours were spent between 16 – 19 Oct 2012 monitoring the area to ensure that the lions have vacated the conflict area.

18 Oct 2012. Xpl-36 near Spaarwater. The lioness (Xpl-36) with the new satellite collar is still in the same location as yesterday. It is possible that the lions killed a zebra in the mountains east of Spaarwater. Last night the Huab male (Xpl-68) walked 30.3 km back to the Hoanib Floodplain. This has now become a regular pattern for Xpl-68 to traverse between the lower Hunkap River and the Hoanib Floodplain.

17 Oct 2012. Xpl-36 in the Klip River. The satellite collar of Xpl-36 became active, transmitting hourly position readings, shortly after the collar was fitted. The lions moved away from the conflict area at Tweespruit and into the mountains to the northwest. During the night of 16/17 Oct 2012 she moved 17.5 km.

16 Oct 2012. Lions in the Klip River. At 23h00 a group of three lions (2 females & 1 sub-adult male) were located 2 km north of Tweespruit (photo: top left), a village that was abandoned due the lions. It was a surprise to find that the lions belong to the Agab Pride. They were observed near Rhino Camp and Wereldsend during the past few months. The VHF collar of Xpl-36 had failed and she was fitted with a new satellite collar. The sub-adult male was fitted with a VHF collar. A camera-trap was mounted near the lions after the darting (photos: bottom row).

15 Oct 2012. Apology. Information has just been received that one of the vehicles photographed by the camera-traps on the Hoanib Floodplain (Vehicle-2: see 13 Oct 2012) did in fact have a valid permit to enter the Skeleton Coast Park. The images have been removed and the Desert Lion Project wishes to apologise to the Swakopmund-based tour operator for the mistake.

15 Oct 2012. Lion meeting at Bergsig. A meeting was held at the Torra Conservancy office in Bergsig to address the increasing problem of conflict between lions and livestock farmers. The meeting (chaired by Russell Vinjevold of IRDNC) was attended by a large section of the farming community of the Torra Conservancy, the Ministry of Environment & Tourism, IRDNC, Wilderness Safaris and other NGOs. It was a fiery event and emotions ran high as local farmers expressed their unhappiness with the increase in lion problems. An agreement was reached that the Desert Lion Project would investigate a particular problem experienced with lions in the upper Klip River and make recommendations to the Ministry of Environment & Tourism and the Torra Conservancy. The location was reached late this afternoon. Fresh lion tracks were found at sundown and the search will continue during the night.

14 Oct 2012. Floodplain lions. Xpl-10 and the Hoanib Floodplain lions (three lionesses & five male cubs) were located in the coastal zone a long way south of Oasis spring. They were close to the mouth of the Hunkap River and about 45 km north of Terrace Bay.

13 Oct 2012. Illegal vehicles on the Floodplain. The array of camera-traps in the Hoanib Floodplain recorded a tourist vehicle entering the Skeleton Coast Park without permission. A Botswana registered vehicle (photos below) was recorded on three cameras. The information has been handed over to the Ministry of Environment & Tourism. The Huab male (Xpl-68) is still at the same location in the lower Hunkap River.

Vehicle-1: 16 Sep 2012 at 11h46, 13h00 & 13h13

12 Oct 2012. Huab male update. Xpl-68 spent several days in the western section of the Hoanib Floodplain. During the night of 9 Oct 2012 he started moving again and on 10/11 Oct 2012 he moved back to the lower Hunkap River (58.5 km). Xpl-73 “Rosh” could not be located in the Mudorib and lower Hoanib Rivers.

11 Oct 2012. Barab & Obab lions. Whilst traveling to the Hoanib River to search for Xpl-73 “Rosh” and replace his old GPS collar with a new satellite collar, the two Aub/Barab males (Xpl-79 & 80) were observed in the upper Barab River. The three sub-adult cubs of Xpl-49 “Nina” were located in the Urunendis River. A female was immobilised and fitted with a VHF radio collar.

10 Oct 2012. Oryx mortality. A request was received from David Lehmann (of the Oryx Project, IZW, Berlin, Germany) to investigate a mortality alarm received from a satellite collar fitted to an Oryx in the vicinity of the Aub/Barab Rivers. The satellite collar was retrieved and samples were collected from the Oryx carcass. The cause of death does not appear to have been predation by lions or spotted hyaenas. A camera-trap, mounted at the location where Xpl-80 & Xpl-83 were darted yesterday, was retrieved (photo: below right).

9 Oct 2012. Aub Canyon lioness. The Aub/Barab male (Xpl-80) was located near Aub Canyon. The new radio collar fitted to him on 27 Aug 2012 was not transmitting regular signals. Xpl-80 and a beautiful adult lioness were darted early this morning and the faulty radio collar of Xpl-80 was replaced. The lioness (Xpl-83) is a daughter of Xpl-5. She was fitted with a VHF radio collar and named “Mindy”, after the famous TV series “Mork & Mindy”. The Huab male (Xpl-68) is still in the western section of the Hoanib Floodplain.

8 Oct 2012. Aub Canyon. Efforts are underway to locate the lionesses of the Aub Pride. The radio collars of both Xpl-52 & Xpl-65 (a GPS collar) appear to have failed prematurely and the faulty radio collars need to be replaced. During the night one of the young adult males was located.

7 Oct 2012. Barab lions. A report was received via the Ministry of Environment & Tourism that lions killed livestock near Bergsig in the Torra Conservancy. The incident was investigated, but after killing a few goats a week ago, the lions had moved off. Xpl-49 “Nina” and one the Barab males (Xpl-79) were found at the Aub/Barab Junction spring. This was a surprise because “Nina” was observed two weeks ago at the Hunkap spring 50 km further north.

6 Oct 2012. Floodplain lions settle down. A total of 42 hours were invested sitting in the Land Cruiser close to the Floodplain Pride. This was well worth the effort and helped to restore the previous status quo of trust between the lions and the research vehicle. The Huab male (Xpl-68) is still in the Hoanib Floodplain. He has not moved since 22h00 on 4 Oct 2012 and it is presumed that he is feeding on a carcass.

5 Oct 2012. Nervous Floodplain lions. During the past few years a lot of time and effort went into building trust with the Floodplain lionesses by always approaching them carefully to avoid any disturbance. When the lionesses and cubs were approached earlier today near the mouth of the Hoanib River, their behaviour was strikingly different. They were nervous and afraid of the research vehicle. All three lionesses (including the docile Xpl-69) displayed aggression towards the vehicle from a distance of >200 metres (photo: bottom right). Several tour groups and film crews have observed the Floodplain lionesses with their five cubs during the past few weeks. It is possible that the lions were harassed during one of these encounters.

4 Oct 2012. Xpl-68 explores Hoanib Floodplain. Observations on the Huab male revealed that he remained very alert as he moved around on the western section of the Hoanib Floodplain, suggesting that he might be looking for another lion. The Floodplain lionesses (Xpl-10, 55, 69 and the five cubs) were located west of the dune-belt near Oasis spring and 12 km from Xpl-68. They appeared equally alert.

3 Oct 2012. Xpl-68 at Auses (2). The Huab male was observed moving amongst the dunes and hummocks at Auses spring on the western edge of the Hoanib Floodplain. Although he is still in good condition, he has not had a solid meal for several days.

2 Oct 2012. Xpl-68 at Auses. The Huab male started moving south of the Hunkap River during the night of 30 Sep 2012, but at 23h00 he suddenly changed direction and walked due north. His radio signal was heard last night whilst searching for Xpl-73 “Rosh”. Plans were changed and Xpl-68 was followed (from a distance using the VHF signal of his radio collar) as he moved to the Hoanib Floodplain and then westwards to Auses spring. At 07h12 this morning he moved past one of the camera-traps situated on the southern edge of the Floodplain. The same camera also recorded a cheetah on 1 Oct 2012. Xpl-68 walked 73.0 km during the past two days.

1 Oct 2012. Search for "Rosh". The Hoanib River and its major tributaries are being search for signs of Xpl-73 “Rosh”. The Okongwe lioness Xpl-71 and the young male “David” (Xpl-82) were located just east of the Ganamub Poort. They were lying inside a thick patch of reeds. The camera-trap at Okongwe recorded many interesting photos of several large and smaller carnivore species (see below), but no images of lions.