News - 2012
30 Sep 2012. New satellite collars. The Huab male (Xpl-68) returned to the Hunkap River. During the night he walked 33.7 km to the Hunkap spring and then down-stream towards the coast. In May 2012, Guido Haeger (based in Germany) initiated a fundraising campaign for two satellite radio collars. With support from many individuals, the Namibia-Forum, the Wuestenschiff-Forum and the Deutsch-Namibische Gesellschaft purchased the satellite collars from Africa Wildlife Tracking. Marianne & Helmut Hofer (contributors to this initiative & also previous sponsors of the Desert Lion Project – see 20 Aug 2009) delivered the two collars to the Project in the Hoanib River. Efforts are now underway to locate Xpl-73 “Rosh” to replace his fading GPS collar with one of the new satellite collars.
29 Sep 2012. Hoanib Dunes. The Floodplain lionesses have been moving and hunting in amongst the dunes south of Oasis spring. Strong southwesterly winds, shifting dunes and sensitive terrain have restricted access to the area by vehicle. Consequently, it has not been possible to approach and observe the lions. The Huab male (Xpl-68) moved 7.3 km last night and he is still in the Mudorib River.
28 Sep 2012. Xpl-68 returns to Hoanib. The Huab male continued moving north and has entered the core area occupied by the Hoanib Pride. An adult male leopard was photographed by a camera-trap on the Hoanib Floodplain. During the night the Floodplain lionesses were located 5km from the coast near Oasis spring. All five male cubs (the “Five Musketeers”) are still alive and in good condition.
27 Sep 2012. Hoanib male. The GPS collar of Xpl-73 “Rosh” returned to transmitting a normal signal after the low-battery recovery signal was heard two days ago. Hopes are that the battery will last long enough to source a satellite collar to use as a replacement. The Okongwe lioness (Xpl-71) was spotted briefly from a long distance. The Huab male (Xpl-68) walked further north and after 30.6 km he was resting at the Mudorib spring this afternoon.
26 Sep 2012. Hoanib lions. The disturbance caused by the darting of the young male (Xpl-82 “David” - photos: top row) was too much for the lioness Xpl-71 and the efforts to dart her failed for the third consecutive night. The Hoanib Pride (Xpl-59 and co.) and Xpl-57 were located near the Mudorib waterhole. The Huab male (Xpl-68) walked 40.5 km last night and reached the Hunkap River (see map).
25 Sep 2012. "Rosh". The mystery lioness (see 24 Sep 2012) was confirmed to be Xpl-71 of the Okongwe Pride (photos: bottom right). Using the Vibrissae Database, the young male “David” (Xpl-82) was identified as one of Xpl-71’s two male cubs (see 29 Jul 2011 and 1-4 Nov 2011). Another unsuccessful night was spent trying to dart Xpl-71 and replace the faulty radio collar. At 07h00 this morning Xpl-73 “Rosh” arrived from the west and joined-up with Xpl-71 where she and Xpl-82 were resting inside a thick patch of reeds. He was also captured on a camera-trap mounted in the narrow Ganamub gorge (photo: top right). The GPS collar of “Rosh” started emitting a recovery signal, indicating that the battery is almost flat. The collar must be replaced. The Huab male (Xpl-68) moved 15.4 km, but against predictions he headed northwards again, following the Obab River. It does not appear if Xpl-68 has intensions of returning to the Huab River.
24 Sep 2012. A Night of Surprises. The tracks of two lions were followed from Elephant Song to Ganamub Poort and they were observed at 01h00 this morning. The pair consisted of a radio-collared lioness and a young male of 18 months. The radio collar was not functional and the lioness is possibly Xpl-71 from the Okongwe Pride. With assistance from Garth Owen-Smith and David Kasaona (Sesfontein Conservancy), the male lion was immobilised and the first RFID TAG collar (donated by Paul van Biljon) was fitted. The lion (Xpl-82) was named “David” (see photos: top middle & right). Xpl-82 had a “dewclaw” on his right back foot (photos: bottom middle & right). This is a most unusual anomaly since lions only have four toes and claws on their back feet. The Huab male (Xpl-68) is still in the Uniab River.
23 Sep 2012. Hoanib lions. A young lioness (Xpl-57) was located in the Hoanib River, west of the Obias junction. The movement data for the past six weeks were retrieved from her GPS collar (see map: below left). Data from the GPS collar of “Rosh” (Xpl-73) revealed that he utilised the Hoanib River extensively during the past 3 months (map: below right), with regular visits to the Okongwe area and the Gamatum River, where lions have killed several donkeys and other livestock. The tracks of two lions at Elephant Song in the Hoanib River are being followed with the hopes of locating and identifying the lions.
21/22 Sep 2012. Lion meeting at Sesfontein. The Huab male (Xpl-68) remained at his Oryx carcass until 05h00 this morning. He then moved 6.7 km towards the east following the Uniab River. The Hoanib male (Xpl-73 “Rosh”) was located in the Hoanib River west of the Ganamub and the movement data for the past 3 months were downloaded from his GPS collar. A meeting was held at the Sesfontein Conservancy office to address the increasing problem of conflict between lions and livestock farmers. The meeting (chaired by John Kasaona) was attended by the senior members those conservancies that experience lion problems, the Ministry of Environment & Tourism, IRDNC and other NGOs.
20 Sep 2012. Notice. The problem of sending & receiving emails from the field using the BGAN satellite modem has not yet been solved. All attempts to send emails this evening failed.
19/20 Sep 2012. Uniab to Hunkap. The Huab male is still at the same location in the lower Uniab River. The Hunkap lions (Xpl-53 “Charlotte” & Xpl-81) are favouring in the mountainous terrain to the northeast of the Hunkap spring (photo: bottom left). Large numbers of zebras are currently drinking at the Hunkap spring (photos: bottom middle & right).
18 Sep 2012. Xpl-68 in Uniab River. The Huab male walked 13.5 km during the night, but remaining in the Uniab River. At 02h00 this morning he was 14 km from the coast, just north of Torra Bay. An update of the support and sponsorships received during the past few months has been added to the Sponsors page (see list below). Several hundred emails were retrieved from a backlog due to the problems experienced with the BGAN satellite connection. These emails will be addressed during the next few days.
16/17 Sep 2012. Xpl-68 back in Uniab River. The Huab male continued moving south and spent midday on 16 Sep 2012 at Haren spring in the Obab River (map: bottom right). Last night he followed the course of the Obab River and reached the Uniab River at 10h30 this morning. Xpl-68 walked 62.7 km over the past two days.
13-15 Sep 2012. Hunkap lions. The Huab male (Xpl-68) continued exploring the area around the Hunkap spring. During the past three days he walked 77.9 km (38.2, 25.2 & 14.5 km per day respectively). Data retrieved from the satellite collars of Xpl-53 “Charlotte” and the black-mane lion (Xpl-81) showed that they were in the mountains 12 km east of the Huab male at 12h00 today (see map - below right). Fieldwork has been stopped until 20 Sep 2012. The time will be used to repair the email problems experienced with the BGAN satellite IP modem, to update the website (such as acknowledgements for funding and support received over the past few months) and attending to other logistical and maintenance needs.
11/12 Sep 2012. Xpl-68 favours Hunkap area. The Huab male has remained in the Hunkap area and after some interactions with the lioness Xpl-49 “Nina” and her sub-adult cubs, it is likely that she (“Nina”) is in oestrous. Xpl-68 covered 41.1 km and was back at Hunkap spring this morning.
10 Sep 2012. Xpl-68 explores Hunkap area. The Huab male moved 20.2 km during the night as he explored the areas to the south and east of Hunkap spring.
9 Sep 2012. Xpl-68 in Hunkap River. The Huab male walked 32 km to the Hunkap spring and then followed the course of the Hunkap River to the west. Several whales (presumably Fin whales) were observed near the seal colony at Mowe Bay.
7/8 Sep 2012. Xpl-68 heading for Hunkap. The Huab male moved through the centre of the Hoanib Pride’s territory. He rested at the junction of the Hoanib and Obias Rivers during midday on 7 Sep 2012 and then negotiated the mountains as he headed towards Hunkap spring (46.7 km). Several radio-collared lionesses (presumably Xpl-10 and the Floodplain females) were recorded by a camera-trap in the Hoanib River.
6 Sep 2012. Xpl-68 reaches Okongwe. During the past two nights the Huab male (Xpl-68) moved 48.4 km and reached the Sawurogab River this morning. He is now in the southwestern section of the Okongwe area and has possibly encountered some of the Okongwe or Hoanib lions. Another caracal was observed in the lower part of the Hoanib River. This marks the fifth observation (both direct and from camera-traps) in the area over the past 6 weeks.
5 Sep 2012. Cheetahs. The coalition of four male cheetahs was also recorded by another camera-trap on the Hoanib Floodplain. The individual cheetahs were identified based on their unique spot patterns. The Huab male (Xpl-68) finished feeding on the Oryx carcass last night and moved north to Ganias Spring. At 03h00 this morning he changed direction to the northeast (towards the Okongwe area) and by 11h00 he reached the Tsuxub River (35.5 km).
4 Sep 2012. Xpl-68 versus the crows. The Huab male remained at the Oryx carcass south of Ganias spring. He was harassed by many Pied and Black crows and expended a lot of energy chasing them from the carcass.
3 Sep 2012. Xpl-68 guard Oryx. The Huab male has been feeding on the Oryx carcass and protecting it against an onslaught of Pied crows and Black-backed jackals.
2 Sep 2012. Xpl-68 catch Oryx. The Huab male moved 8.7 km in a northerly direction. Shortly before dawn, whilst the area was covered in a thick blanket of fog, he surprised and captured an Oryx on the pink gravel plain just south of Ganias spring.
1 Sep 2012. Xpl-68 explore further north. The Huab male spent the night on the Hoanib Floodplain. At 07h00 this morning he started moving north and by 10h00 he had reached the mountains south of Ganias spring. He walked 25.4 km. A coalition of four male cheetahs was photographed by a camera-trap on the southern edge of the Floodplain.