News - 2013



30 Sep 2013 12h00. The "Dorob Male? The satellite collar of Xpl-36 “Monica” came back online again this morning, but there is concern over the whereabouts of Xpl-77 (the “Dorob Male”) that has not transmitted a location position since 27 Sep 2013.

30 Sep 2013. Camera Trap. A large number of photos were downloaded from four camera-traps in the Hoanib River and Okongwe area.

29 Sep 2013. Ganias Spring. Also see movement updates.

28 Sep 2013. "Five Musketeers". The decision to postpone the darting of the three young "Musketeers" was essential to maintain the "trust" and acceptance of the lions towards the research vehicle. In an effort to regain the "trust" of Xpl-10 and the other lionesses, a total of 38 hours were spent sitting in the vehicle close to them. The lionesses kept their distance, but the young males soon became used to the vehicle. This allowed behavioural observations that were not influenced by the presence of the vehicle (photos below). The satellite collar of the "Terrace Male" (Xpl-68) came back "online" - he moved 120 km since midnight on 26 Sep 2013.

27 Sep 2013. Darting posponed. The Floodplain lionesses killed an Oryx just before sunset. This provided an ideal opportunity to fit satellite collars to the three remaining "Musketeers". The carcass was approached carefully to within darting range (35 metres) and the young males were feeding in clear view. However, the lionesses (especially Xpl-55 & Xpl-69) were unusually nervous and aggressive towards the research vehicle (see photos below). This is due to the disturbance caused by the darting of Xpl-10 & 55 on 13 Sep 2013 and Xpl-89 & 90 on 18 Sep 2013. Even though it was possible to immobilise the three young males, a calculated decision was taken to postpone the activity until a later date.

26 Sep 2013. Floodplain Pride. The Floodplain lionesses and the "Five Musketeers" were located north of Sima Hill. They were feeding on the last remains of an Oryx carcass. To avoid unnecessary disturbance the lions will be observed for 24 hours before attempting to immobilise the remaining three young males.

25 Sep 2013. Early rains. During the afternoon thunderstorms and heavy showers were encountered along large sections of the Skeleton Coast.

24 Sep 2013. Rocky Point. The "Terrace Male" Xpl-68 started on another excursion to the north when he left the mouth of the Hoaruseb River during the night and walked passed Rocky Point towards the Khumib River.

23 Sep 2013. Movement Updates.

22 Sep 2013. The "Terrace Male". The satellite collar of Xpl-68 went "off-line" on 18 Sep. When the collar started transmitting location positions again yesterday afternoon, the lion had moved to the mouth of the Hoaruseb River.

21 Sep 2013. Remote camera images. A camera-trap mounted in the northern section of the Hoanib Floodplain captured Xpl-81 "Kebbel" during his recent visit to the Floodplain two weeks ago, as well as images of a cheetah and a caracal.

20 Sep 2013. Floodplain Pride. Efforts to locate and radio-collar the rest of the "Five Musketeers" had to be abandoned when the pride crossed the dunes in a north-easterly direction towards Sima Hill.

19 Sep 2013. Terrace. Whilst searching for the three remaining "Musketeers", the "Terrace Male" (Xpl-68) was observed moving over the dunes at the mouth of the Hoanib River.

18 Sep 2013. Dart two "Musketeers". Since yesterday evening a total of 20 hours were invested sitting in the Land Cruiser waiting for chance to dart the "Five Musketeers" of the Hoanib Floodplain Pride. An opportunity finally presented itself when the lionesses (Xpl-10 & co.) killed a springbok near Oasis spring late this morning. Only two of the five males were present. They were immobilised and fitted with satellite collars whilst the lionesses watched from a nearby hummock (photos: bottom row). Xpl-89 "Harry" and Xpl-90 (69Y12-2) recovered from the anaesthetics and were re-joined by their mothers at 13h45.

17 Sep 2013. Auses Spring. After an absence of nearly 20 years, lions returned to the Hoanib River and became resident on the Hoanib Floodplain in 2006. Since then they regularly visit Auses spring in the dunes, but as far as the Desert Lion Project is aware a lion has never previously been seen at the actual spring. The "Terrace Male" (Xpl-68) was observed briefly lying in the reeds at the water's edge and he then moved over the dunes onto the Floodplain (see photos: top row - Martin Schmidt). Xpl-36 and Xpl-77 are still together.

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16 Sep 2013. Clay Castles. The "Terrace Male" (Xpl-68) moved through parts of the spectacular Clay Castles deposits to Auses spring in the Hoanib Floodplain over a 24-hour period. Xpl-36 "Monica" and the "Dorob Male" (Xpl-77) are together and it is possible that Xpl-36 is in oestrous and that they are mating.

15 Sep 2013. "Terrace Male". Xpl-68 was located in the Hoaruseb River where he was feeding on an Oryx carcass that was presumably killed by Xpl-73 "Rosh".

14 Sep 2013. Hoanib River. The lower Hoanib and the Tsuxib Rivers were searched and several sets of lion tracks were found. The movements of three adult males (Xpl-68, Xpl-73 & Xpl-81) during the night appear to be synchronised. This may be a random event, but efforts are underway to investigate the reason for their movements.

13 Sep 2013. Dart Xpl-10. The Floodplain lionesses moved northwards during the night and into an area that is slightly more accessible than the dunes and hummocks (the "Maze flats") where they have been for the past week. The three lionesses were without the "Five Musketeers" (their 18-month old male cubs). The opportunity was used to immobilise both Xpl-10 & Xpl-55 in order to replace their radio collars.

12 Sep 2013. Oasis Dunes. During the night the Floodplain Pride ventured deep into the dunes in pursuit of Oryx. At dawn they were observed moving back over the dunes to Oasis spring (see photos below) where they spent the day resting in the reeds. The "Terrace Male" has moved up the Khumib River to the edge of the "Rocky Gardens".

11 Sep 2013. Floodplain Pride. The Floodplain lionesses and all five "Musketeers" were located in the "Maze" flats between Oasis spring and the coast. It was not possible to reach them because of the difficult terrain.

10 Sep 2013. Xpl-73 near Rocky Point. The "Terrace Male" (Xpl-68) moved passed the Hoaruseb River and continued to the Khumib River and to Sarusas spring. Xpl-73 "Rosh" was located a few kilometres south of Rocky Point (photos below).

9 Sep 2013. "Five Musketeers". The Floodplain lionesses (Xpl-10 & co.) were located near the mouth of the Hoanib River (see top photo - red dot). Three of the five male cubs (the Five Musketeers) were present at the time (see photo: bottom right), but it is suspected that another male cub joined the group during the night. The "Five Musketeers" are now 18 months and they are spending an increasing amount of time away from the lionesses.

8 Sep 2013. "Terrace Male". Xpl-68 walked back to the Hoaruseb River and another confrontation with Xpl-73 "Rosh" seems inevitable. The search for the "Five Musketeers" continue.

7 Sep 2013. One Musketeer? The tracks of a single sub-adult male lion (presumably one of the "Five Musketeers") were located on the Hoanib Floodplain at 10h00 this morning. The tracks were followed for 36.2 km (see map below) until it became too dark to see the tracks and the effort of locating the lion had to be abandoned. One of the camera-traps on the Hoanib Floodplain recorded the "Terrace Male" (Xpl-68) on 2 Sep 2013 (see photo below).

6 Sep 2013. Xpl-81 "Kebbel". A comprehensive search for the "Five Musketeers" was initiated after the website problem had been solved. Two adult male lions (Xpl-81 "Kebbel" & Xpl-87) were located in the Hoanib River a few kilometres east of the Mudorib junction.

5 Sep 2013 14h00. Website Problem. Since 3 Sep 2013 it has not been possible to access and update the Desert Lion website from the field. The past 36 hours were devoted to finding and solving the problem. This was a time consuming and rather expensive exercise with numerous satellite telephone calls to various people in Namibia and to the USA where the domain is hosted. The problem was eventually cracked by Kevin Milne of Radio Electronic in Walvis Bay. He identified that the IP address of the site had inexplicably changed overnight. The necessary corrections were made and the daily updates can now continue. The Desert Lion Project would like to thank Kevin Milne of Radio Electronic, Regina Fischer of Wilderness Safaris and Peter Sander for their assistance.

5 Sep 2013. Xpl-68 on the Floodplain. The "Terrace Male" moved back to the Hoanib River during the night and he was observed hunting for Oryx on the Floodplain. NOTICE: a problem has occurred with the IP address and the FTP protocols of the Desert Lion website that prevented daily updates.

4 Sep 2013. The "Terrace Male". Xpl-68 was located north of the Hoanib Floodplain and he was observed at close quarters for the first time since his travels into Angola. He is in an excellent physical condition and appears to have grown in "stature" during the past few months.

3 Sep 2013. Koigab River. The area between the Huab, Koigab & Uniab Rivers has been searched for signs of other lion movements.

2 Sep 2013. Surprise in the Huab River. The mystery of the male lion that displaced the "Terrace Male" (Xpl-68) from his pride in the Huab River during Aug 2012 has been solved. The lion was tracked and spotted in the Huab River east of Peter's Pool. During the night he was darted whilst feeding on an Oryx carcass. To great surprise the male was identified as Xpl-35 (see Xpl-35 for background information). He was last observed with the Aub Pride in June 2011 when his radio collar failed and he could not be located again. Xpl-35 is 14 years of age and currently the oldest male in the Desert lion population. He is in good condition and his teeth show remarkably little wear. Xpl-35 was fitted with a new VHF radio collar.

1 Sep 2013. Xpl-88. The two adult lionesses (Xpl-75 & 76) and one of the young females of the Huab Pride were located near Peter's Pool. The young lioness was immobilised and fitted with a VHF radio collar (Xpl-88).