News - 2013



Lion Movements - go to Current Locations.

31 Jul 2013. Searching for Xpl-68. Searching for Xpl-68. During the past 18 hours a distance of 620 km was driven over dunes and along the beach (during low-tide) in search of the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68). His tracks were followed and his resting-spot of yesterday afternoon (photos: bottom middle & right) was inspected. Xpl-68 was located 40 km south of the Kunene River at 22h30 and he was moving northwards.

30 Jul 2013. Xpl-68 Off-line. The “Terrace Male (Xpl-68) moved in an easterly direction and was resting at the base of a big mountain ridge when his satellite collar went off-line (see Current Locations for explanation) at 18h00. Efforts are now underway to locate him on the ground using VHF tracking.

29 Jul 2013. Hartmann's Valley. Since leaving Sarusas spring the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) moved 129 km over a period of a bit more than 2 days (52 hours). He is currently in the dunes close to the southern section of the Hartmann’s Valley. There are several families of Ovahimba people with their livestock utilising the area around the Hartmann’s Valley and the Marienfluss. Efforts will be made to help prevent Xpl-68 killing the livestock of the Ovahimba people from both the Marienfluss & Orupembe Concervancies, and to ensure that Xpl-68 is not shot or poisoned.

28 Jul 2013. Blue wildebeest. A blue wildebeest arrived at Ugab Gate in the Skeleton Coast Park a few days ago. Wildebeests do not occur in the arid regions of the Namib and it is possible that this individual escaped from a game farm in central Namibia and moved westwards along the Ugab River. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) has not moved since yesterday and is presumably feeding on an Oryx or ostrich.

27 Jul 2013."Columbus". The “Terrace Male” consumed his Oryx carcass much sooner than expected and then continued on his incredible journey of discovery & exploration. He moved past Angra Fria earlier this morning and is currently walking along the Engo River.

26 Jul 2013. Xpl-68 in Khumib River. The “Terrace Male” remained in the Khumib River whilst guarding and feeding on his Oryx carcass. The surrounding area (including the lower Hoaruseb River) was scanned for signs of other lions. Several sets of lion tracks (ranging from 2 to 10 days-old) were found and they all belonged to Xpl-68.

25 Jul 2013. Xpl-68 catch Oryx. At 06h52 the “Terrace Male” captured an adult male Oryx amongst the hummocks east of Sarusas spring. Pied and black crows were quick to find the carcass and Xpl-68 has been chasing crows and guarding his kill.

24 Jul 2013. Sarusas Spring. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) was observed exploring the area around Sarusas spring. This is his first visit to the area and also the first time that a lion has been seen at Sarusas since an observation by Steve Braine in 1986.

23 Jul 2013. Remarkable "Terrace Male". The satellite collar of Xpl-68 “Terrace Male” was off-line since 19 Jul 2013 (see News 31 May 2013 & Current Locations for explanation). When the location data became available again yesterday, it was a great surprise that Xpl-68 had moved north of the Hoaruseb River on 21 Jul 2013. He passed the Khumib River on 22 Jul 2013 and was resting in the “Rocky Garden” area, about 7 km south of Ogams spring and the Secumib River (see map & photo: top right). During the night he moved to Sarusas spring in the Khumib River, where he was photographed in thick fog early this morning.

22 Jul 2013. Okongwe Water. The Floodplain Pride visited the Okongwe waterhole again last night and the images below were recorded by a camera-trap (move mouse over images below). Some of the “Five Musketeers” took an interest in the camera and chewed on it for a while. A canine tooth penetrated the lens and the camera was destroyed, but all the images could fortunately be retrieved from the memory card (similar to the developments of yesterday). The lions were observed this morning moving along a riverbank towards the west of Okongwe waterhole.

21 Jul 2013. Camera-trap. A camera-trap, that has been monitoring the movements of wildlife through a narrow gorge in the Okongwe Mountains since Oct 2011, disappeared. After an extensive search the camera was found amongst the rocks approximately 600 metres from where it was broken from its mountings. The images revealed that a spotted hyaena walked through the gorge at 04h28 on 10 Mar 2013. The hyaena noticed the camera (photo: left), approached and bit it extensively (photo: middle). The camera was damaged beyond repair, but it was a stroke of good luck that the camera was found and that the images explaining the event could be retrieved from the memory card.

20 Jul 2013. Heading for Trouble. The Floodplain Pride continued moving north and ever closer to the Gamatum and Hoaruseb Rivers, where there are large numbers of livestock. The demands that the five young males place on the group, in terms of their daily food requirements (see NEWS 19 Jul 2013), are extensive and could explain why the lionesses are moving further afield in order to secure enough food. During another attempt to dart the Okongwe lioness (Xpl-72), the adult male “Rosh” (Xpl-73) arrived and spoiled the opportunity by displacing the lionesses from a springbok carcass they were feeding on.

19 Jul 2013. Okongwe. The Okongwe females were located in the mountains. An attempt to dart Xpl-72 and remove her faulty GPS collar was unsuccessful. During the night the Floodplain Pride (including the 5 “Musketeers”) moved all the way to the Okongwe waterhole, where they killed a mountain zebra and drank at the waterhole. During the past 8 days the Floodplain lions killed and consumed 3 Oryx and a Mountain zebra. This coincides with the predictions of a mathematical model developed to estimate the increasing food requirements of the Pride as a function of the age of the 5 male cubs. The "Musketeers" are currently 18 months old.


18 Jul 2013. Floodplain males. More time was spent with the Floodplain Pride to observe the behaviour of the five male cubs.

17 Jul 2013. Kebbel. Xpl-81 “Kebbel” was observed in the Hoanib River moving towards the Mudorib Junction.

16 Jul 2013. Tsuxib River. Observations on the Floodplain Pride and the 5 Musketeers continued. The lionesses killed another Oryx west of the Tsuxib River.

15 Jul 2013. Male Conflicts. Signs of an unknown male in the Hoanib River was investigated when the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-86) suddenly left the Floodplain and headed north, after a lot of roaring during the night. The tracks of the male were followed and he was darted 8 km south of the Floodplain. The male (Xpl-87) comes from the Barab area and he was last observed at Hunkap spring. He was fitted with a satellite collar. A “Remote Area Light” that was sponsored by Pelican was used for the first time and it made a big difference working with the immobilised lion (photo: bottom right).

14 Jul 2013. Musketeers. The behaviour of the “Five Musketeers” is being monitored to determine when they are likely to disperse. It is essential that they be fitted with satellite collars before they leave the pride. The previous male cub born to the Floodplain Pride dispersed and moved to the Okongwe area where he was possibly killed and his satellite collar destroyed at Tomakas village after killing livestock (see Xpl-56 for details).

13 Jul 2013. Musketeers. The five male cubs of the Floodplain Pride were observed this morning. The lionesses killed an Oryx during the night and at sunrise the males were still feeding on the last remains.

12 Jul 2013. Windhoek Talk. A summary of the presentation and fundraising event in Windhoek on 26 Jun 2013 has been compiled under Windhoek 2013 .

12 Jul 2013. Floodplain Developments. It was confirmed last night that all five male cubs (the “Five Musketeers”) are still alive, but the males are spending very little time with their mothers. During the past two days the three Floodplain lionesses exerted a lot of time and energy searching for the cubs.

11 Jul 2013. Floodplain Lionesses. The Floodplain Pride was eventually located 15 km north of the Hoanib Floodplain. During the past few days it has become evident that the “Five Musketeers” (the 5 male cubs, aged 17 months) have been spending a lot of time away from the lionesses. The tracks of 2 and 3 young males have been followed as they moved independently from the adult females. Only the three lionesses were observed this morning, but based on the behaviour of the females, the male cubs are close by. There is thus an urgent need to fit satellite collars to the males before they disperse.

10 Jul 2013. Floodplain. More than 24 hours have been invested to locate the Floodplain lionesses and the 5 Musketeers. The satellite collar of Xpl-69 is currently not functioning. The lions have been moving around extensively and, although a large area has been covered, it has not been possible to catch-up with them. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) was spotted at sunset (from a great distance of approximately 5 km) as he moved down towards the Floodplain.

09 Jul 2013. Elephants. A few months ago a camera-trap was mounted at a small spring on the gravel plains between the Hoaruseb and Hoanib Rivers inside the Skeleton Coast Park. Earlier today more than 1500 images were downloaded from the camera. Most interesting were numerous photos of elephants that presumably move between the two ephemeral river systems.

08 Jul 2013. Khumib River. During the night the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) moved towards the cattle and donkeys that were grazing inside the Skeleton Coast Park. An effort was made to deter him from killing the livestock and moving further upriver by making a big fire in the riverbed and setting off fireworks. This appeared to have worked as Xpl-68 started moving westwards towards the coast at sunrise A report of lion tracks near Sarusas spring in the Khumib River was investigated, but no evidence of lion movements were found.

07 Jul 2013. Hoaruseb River. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) was located in the lower Hoaruseb River inside the Skeleton Coast Park. At sunset he roared frequently and moved in an easterly direction. There are large numbers of livestock (cattle & donkeys) in the Hoaruseb River and several groups were observed west of Leyland’s Drift.

06 Jul 2013. Camera-traps. During the past two months Xpl-81 “Kebbel” was captured on three separate occasions by the camera-traps mounted at Hunkap spring and Mudorib spring (photo: top left). The cameras also recorded many other interesting images – see below.

05 Jul 2013. Leopard. The Land Cruiser is running well after the fuel-flow problem was fixed. A leopard was photographed by a camera-trap mounted 8 km from the coast in the Uniab River.

04 Jul 2013. Movement Updates.

03 Jul 2013. More vehicle problems. Shortly after leaving Swakopmund the field vehicle developed a fuel-flow problem. Spare parts to repair the problem should arrive by midday. Xpl-73 “Rosh” has fortunately left the cattle-rich Hoaruseb River and is moving southwards.

02 Jul 2013. Hoaruseb River. Xpl-73 “Rosh” moved to the Hoaruseb River and he is approximately 15 km west of Purros. Livestock are currently utilising that part of the River and conflict is inevitable. Repairs to the vehicle were delayed due to additional problems that resulted from and rust. A new set of Old Man Emu springs that were sponsored by 4x4 Megaworld has been fitted.

01 Jul 2013. Prepare for fieldwork. The Land Cruiser is awaiting spare parts at Alfons Motors in Swakopmund. The parts are expected to arrive this morning. Repairs to the sound system and other equipment damaged during the incident on 9 Jun 2013 are almost complete. A summary of the events that took place in Windhoek continues. The current locations of lions are now available after a server delay earlier this morning.