News - 2013

Aug

August

31 Aug 2013. Huab Lions. The lower section of the Huab River was searched extensively for signs of the adult male and the six missing cubs (now 18 months old). Their tracks were located at sunset.

30 Aug 2013. Xpl-68 at Oasis. The "Terrace Male" returned to the mouth of the Hoanib River after a period of three and a half months. He is currently lying in the reeds at Oasis spring.

29 Aug 2013. Xpl-68 heading south. The "Terrace Male" spent two days at the mouth of the Hoaruseb River and last night he started moving south towards Mowe Bay.

28 Aug 2013. Jack Scott Bridge. The new satellite collar fitted to Xpl-75 "Angela" is working well. After feeding on the Oryx carcass she moved westwards along the Huab River towards the Jack Scott bridge. The "Terrace Male" (Xpl-68) walked 31 km (partly along the beach) to Rocky Point and then returned to the Hoaruseb River via the dunes.

27 Aug 2013. "Angela". Xpl-75 was darted last night. A new satellite collar that was donated by Freddie Hertzberg was fitted and the lioness was named “Angela”. She is in excellent condition and recovered quickly from the anaesthetics. At 23h30 she returned to the Oryx carcass and started feeding. Against expectations, the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) started moving north again and he is currently close to Rocky Point.

26 Aug 2013. Xpl-75. The Huab lioness with the faulty satellite radio collar (Xpl-75) was located inside the Skeleton Coast Park. Xpl-75 appears to be alone and she is feeding on a fresh Oryx carcass. Efforts are underway to immobilise her in order to fit a new satellite collar. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) has not moved since yesterday.

25 Aug 2013. Huab River. Xpl-76 and several large cubs of the Huab Pride were located at Peter’s Pool, but they remained in a thick reed bed. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) is still in the same place south of the Hoaruseb River and is presumably feeding on a carcass. Xpl-73 “Rosh” has moved down the Hoaruseb River and closer to Xpl-68.

24 Aug 2013. Ugab River. The Project research vehicle (Land Cruiser) was collected in Walvis Bay and the Isuzu was returned to Simon van Zyl (see 18 Aug 2013). A detailed account of the repairs to the Land Cruiser will be posted in the next few days. Monitoring of lion movements in the Ugab & Huab Rivers continued. The satellite collars of the Ugab & Huab lions have been off-line for several days. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) moved 8 km south of the Hoaruseb River.
Warning: A problem has developed with the BGAN satellite IP modem and website updates may not be possible for the next 5-6 days.

23 Aug 2013 13h00. Xpl-68. The “Terrace Male” reached the mouth of the Hoaruseb River at 10h45 today.

23 Aug 2013. Xpl-68 & Xpl-73. Both the “Terrace Male” (red dot) and Xpl-73 “Rosh” (blue dot) are still in the Hoaruseb River.

22 Aug 2013. Xpl-68 displaces Xpl-73. The “Terrace Male” (red dot) and Xpl-73 “Rosh” (blue dot) rested 2 km apart during the day. At sunset Xpl-68 approached Xpl-73 and there was an interaction that lasted several hours (white square). Xpl-68 appears to have displaced Xpl-73 and at 01h30 he chased Xpl-73 in an easterly direction (see map below).
A second camera-trap has disappeared from Gai-Ais spring. This camera was mounted securely on 29 May 2013 and the signs suggested that it was dislodged from its mounting by spotted hyaenas and carried off. Three hours were spent walking and systematically searching the surrounding area, but the camera was not found.

21 Aug 2013 12h00. Xpl-68 vs Xpl-73. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) reached the Hoaruseb River at 11h38. The position where he entered the River is approximately 4 km west of Xpl-73.

21 Aug 2013 07h00. Xpl-68 vs Xpl-73. Another confrontation between the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) and Xpl-73 “Rosh” is imminent. Xpl-73 is currently in the lower Hoaruseb River and the “Terrace Male” is moving towards him from the Khumib River (see map).

20 Aug 2013. Huab River. The two radio-collared lionesses of the Huab Pride were located. Xpl-75 moved deeper into the Skeleton Coast Park and Xpl-76 was still feeding on the remains of her zebra kill. The tracks of an adult male was followed, but he could not be located. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) walked further south and reached the Khumib River.

19 Aug 2013. Huab Lionesses. Both females of the Huab Pride were located today. Xpl-75 was lying on a hummock inside the Skeleton Coast Park (photo: left) and Xpl-76 was feeding on a zebra carcass south of Peter’s Pool (photo: right). The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) is heading back home – he reached the Secumib River last night and walked 171 km during the past three days.

18 Aug 2013. Dorob Male. The Land Cruiser is currently being repaired in Walvis Bay and Simon van Zyl of CPP (see Sponsors) kindly provided a vehicle to continue with fieldwork for the next week or two (photos: top row). The Dorob Male (Xpl-77) was located in the lower Huab River. He was feeding on a carcass (possibly an Oryx) inside a thick reed bed.

17 Aug 2013 07h00. Xpl-68's visit to Angola.

During the 1980s the tracks of a male lion was observed on several occasions at the mouth of the Kunene River by Rangers of the Skeleton Coast Park and Skeleton Coast Fly-In Safaris (re: Andre Schoeman). The tracks suggested that this lion was spending a lot of time in Angola, but he disappeared after 1990. There have not been any subsequent records of lion movements in Iona National Park as well as the south-western corner of Angola.

On 01 Aug 2013 the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) swam across the Kunene River and ventured into Angola. This was a significant event and marked the return of lions to the area after an absence of 23 years. In addition, it is also remarkable that a “Desert lion”, with no experience of perennial rivers or any body of water larger that the pools found at small springs in the desert, swam across 76 metres of fast-flowing & crocodile-infested water.

Xpl-68 stayed in Angola for 15 days and travelled 328.5 km (average 23.5 km/day). He explored the western section of Iona National Park and travelled as far north as Baia Dos Tigress.

At 01h00 on 16 Aug 2013 he crossed the Kunene River and returned to Namibia.

Since Xpl-68 is obviously not aware of the political boundary (Namibia/Angola), his remarkable journey actually started on 20 Jul 2013 when he left the Hoaruseb River to explore “uncharted” territory (see map below). During this period of 29 days he walked 780.4 km at an average of 26.9 km/day (max = 66.3 km).

16 Aug 2013 11h00. Heading South. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) moved 41.5 km since swimming across the Kunene River at 01h00 this morning.

16 Aug 2013 03h00. Back Home. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) crossed the Kunene River at 01h00 after two attempts that were recorded by his satellite collar (see animation below - press play). After crossing the Kunene River, Xpl-68 moved over the dunes at a constant speed of 5 km/hour.

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15 Aug 2013 24h00. Kunene Crossing? The “Terrace Male” walked to within 2 km of the lagoon at the mouth of the Kunene River. At 23h30 it appears that he was attempting a river crossing (see photo bottom right).

15 Aug 2013 13h00. Kunene-2. After resting on the north bank of the Kunene River yesterday afternoon, the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) started moving to the east after sunset. At 01h30 last night he turned around and followed the course of the river in a westerly direction. It does not appear that he attempted to cross the Kunene River. He is currently resting approximately 6 km east of Foz do Cunene.

15 Aug 2013 07h00. Kunene. The “Terrace Male” reached the Kunene River yesterday mid-morning and he is currently moving towards Foz do Cunene.

14 Aug 2013 07h00. South. The “Terrace Male” is currently 12 km north of the Kunene River.

14 Aug 2013 00h00. Baia Dos Tigress-2. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) spent the day in the dunes east of Baia dos Tigress. At 18h00 he started moving in a southerly direction. Despite walking over large dunes Xpl-68 maintained an average speed of 5.4 km/hour.

13 Aug 2013 12h00. Baia Dos Tigress. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) is currently lying in the dunes 5 km east of the coast opposite Fred’s Bay.

13 Aug 2013 07h00. Coast. During the past 30 hours the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) covered a distance of 85.2 km and he is currently moving towards the coastline.

13 Aug 2013 00h00. Iona National Park-2. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) continued walking north and he was 65 km directly north of the Kunene River at midnight.

12 Aug 2013 07h00. Iona National Park. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) walked 39.7 km during the night. He fortunately steered away from the danger area and he is heading north.

12 Aug 2013 00h00. Danger Area. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) spent the day in the rocks on a high mountain ridge. At nightfall he moved down onto the gravel plains and headed to the northeast. This route will take him into a “danger zone” because there are people living in that area with livestock.

11 Aug 2013 08h00. Xpl-68 remains in Angola. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) moved along the Kunene River during the night. At 04h00 he climbed a rather big mountain to the north.

11 Aug 2013 00h00. Namibia? The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) reached the Kunene River at 19h00 on 10 Aug 2013. It would appear that he has been attempting to cross the Kunene River back into Namibia, but he was still in Angola at 00h00.

10 Aug 2013 13h00. Return. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) moved a long way (+ 18 km) since sunrise this morning and he is heading back towards Namibia and the Kunene River.

10 Aug 2013. Angola. The “Terrace Male” moved 44.2 km during the night and reached a point 28 km north of the Kunene River before turning back. In the Purros area Xpl-73 “Rosh” appeared to have displaced the Hukap Male (Xpl-81 “Kebbel”), but now finds himself in an area of livestock and potential conflict.

9 Aug 2013 22h00. Xpl-68 heading north. The “Terrace Male” started moving at sundown and he is currently (22h00) 12 km north of the Kunene River.

9 Aug 2013 14h00. Xpl-68. The “Terrace Male” has remained in the same position and presumably feeding on a carcass such as an Oryx. The location is 560 metres west of the place where he crossed the Kunene River on 2 Aug 2013.

9 Aug 2013. Kunene River. The “Terrace Male” presumably made another kill on the north bank of the Kunene River. He has not moved since 10h00 on 8 Aug 2013. The Hunkap male (Xpl-81 “Kebbel”) is currently in the Gamatum River where there are large numbers of livestock of the Purros Conservancy.

8 Aug 2013. Kunene Mouth-3. The efforts to deter Xpl-68 from approaching Foz do Cunene were successful. He walked 33 km during the night. After a foray into Angola he returned to the Kunene River and walked along the northern bank towards the spot of his initial river crossing (see 3 Aug 2013).

7 Aug 2013 20h00. Foz do Cunene. The research vehicle experienced mechanical problems with its fuel-flow system and it was difficult to drive in the dunes to monitor the movements of Xpl-68. At 09h00 this morning the “Terrace Male” walked up to 500 metres of the Police station at Foz do Cunene in Angola (photo: left middle). A large number of dogs at Foz do Cunene probably deterred Xpl-68 as he moved away and spent the day resting amongst the rocks approximately 1.8 km east of the station (photo: bottom right). The Angolan Police were informed of the movements of the lion. At nightfall the lion started moving westwards again and towards the Police station at Foz do Cunene. Several pencil-flairs were fired from the south bank of the Kunene River in an effort to scare Xpl-68 away from Foz do Cunene (photo: bottom left x 2). Quinton van Rooyen, Gerson Hayambo & Shawn Liebenberg of the Northern Namibia Development Company are thanked for invaluable support during the past few days.

7 Aug 2013. Kunene Mouth-2. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) moved short distances up and down the Kunene River during the early morning and late afternoon, but was still feeding on the carcass during the night. At midnight he started moving to the Kunene Mouth. His satellite collar went off-line at 02h30. Attempts are being made to monitor his movements with VHF telemetry.

6 Aug 2013. Kunene Mouth. The mouth of the Kunene River was reached earlier today after a long drive via the Mumutum River, Okau spring and Angra Fria. A spring tide, associated with the New Moon, prevented driving along the beach and the slow route further inland had to be used. A brown hyaena was observed crossing a saltpan south of the Kunene that has become flooded due to the spring tide. The “Terrace Male” has not moved since yesterday and hopes are that he is feeding on a carcass.

5 Aug 2013. Xpl-68 moves westwards. The “Terrace Male” reached the position of his initial river crossing, but he continued moving westwards along the north-bank of the Kunene River. At approximately 12 km from the Kunene Mouth he stopped moving and it is likely that he killed something and is busy feeding (photo: top). Efforts are underway to monitor him from the Kunene Mouth (photo: bottom).

4 Aug 2013. Crocodiles. The eminent crossing of the Kunene River by Xpl-68 is of concern for two reasons: a) the force of the fast-flowing river & b) the large numbers of crocodiles along the banks. The “Terrace Male” is a remarkable lion that has learnt how to survive in the hyper-arid section of the Namib Desert, but he does not have any experience or knowledge of perennial rivers and crocodiles.

3 Aug 2013 15h00. Kunene River-2. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) stopped moving at 12h30 and he is resting in the shade of a rock overhang approximately 2 km from his initial river crossing. See Xpl-68 Summary for a collection of all observations.

3 Aug 2013 12h00. Kunene River. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) is currently walking in a westerly direction along the north-bank of the Kunene River (see Xpl-68). It is possible that he is aiming for the spot where he crossed the river on 1 Aug 2013 (see below).

3 Aug 2013. Angola. Analysis of the movements of the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) during the past 24 hours revealed that his satellite collar recorded a position at the very moment that he crossed the Kunene River (photo: top left). The coordinates were corrected for projection bias and confirmed that he was in the process of swimming across the river at 05:48 (local time) on 1 Aug 2013. The magnitude of this event is significant when considering the volume, depth & speed of the water flowing through a narrow section of 76 metres. The news of the lion in Angola has spread like wildfire and a delegation of local inhabitants gathered on the north-bank opposite Serra Cafema. Wilderness Safaris facilitated a meeting with the delegation where they were informed of the lion’s movements.

2 Aug 2013. Xpl-68 in Angola. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) crossed the Kunene River into Angola. In doing so he had to swim across a fast flowing river, something that he has certainly not seen or experienced before (photo: left). After crossing the river he first moved in an easterly direction following the course of the river (photo: right) before turning north. Information has been requested from the Ministry of Environment & Tourism and other sources on the demography of human settlements, livestock and wildlife in south-western Angola.

2 Aug 2013. Xpl-68 moves into Angola? It was not possible to reach the location on the Kunene River where the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) was resting during the day. During the late afternoon Xpl-68 started moving again and it would appear that he crossed the Kunene River into Angola. Thanks go to Volker Jahnke, Peter Sander and the Wilderness Safaris staff at Serra Cafema for advice and support.

1 Aug 2013. Xpl-68 at Kunene River. Tracking the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) and trying to keep up with him has been difficult. There are few tracks and large areas are inaccessible. Xpl-68 reached the Kunene River this morning at 03h30.