News - 2014

Feb

February

26 Feb 2014. Cheetahs. Four cheetahs (a mother and three sub-adults) were observed at that Uniab Delta close to the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68).

25 Feb 2014. Leopard. Camera-traps in the lower Obab and Beacon Rivers recorded images of leopards and a caracal.

24 Feb 2014. Lower Huab River. Xpl-75 “Angela” was located in the lower Huab River 1.5 km east of Jack Scott Bridge. All three her small cubs are still alive. Xpl-75 killed an Oryx and they are still feeding on the carcass. The lioness was unusually aggressive towards the vehicle even though she was observed from a distance of 234 metres.

23 Feb 2014. Monitoring Xpl-68. Another two days were spent monitoring the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) at the Uniab Delta. The observations confirmed that the lion has not become unusually aggressive and that the tourists most likely provoked the incident of 21 Feb 2014. During a 24-hour period, whilst Xpl-68 was lying between 50 and 100 metres from the main road, a total of 23 vehicles drove past the lion. Xpl-68 was visible from the road for 15 of the 23 vehicles and 9 vehicles (60%) spotted the lion and stopped to take photographs (photo: top). On one occasion a vehicle stopped and people got out of the vehicle (photo: middle left). They appeared unaware of the presence of the lion. In collaboration with the Ministry of Environment & Tourism and Namibia Wildlife Resorts, a pamphlet will be developed and posted at all the major locations to provide information and guidelines regarding lions to visitors of the Skeleton Coast Park.

22 Feb 2014. Home Range of Xpl-79. It was possible to recover the available movement data from the damaged GPS collar (photo: bottom right) of Xpl-79 “Geronimo”. The collar recorded two positions per day for 209 days - between 4 Nov 2012 (when the collar was fitted, photo: top right) and 31 May 2013 (when it stopped working). During this period Xpl-79 moved over an area of 1,115 sqr km that centred around the lower Aub River (see map).

21 Feb 2014. Xpl-68 kill Oryx. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) killed an adult Oryx at the northern spring of the Uniab Delta.

News Flash. Lion harasses tourist? Shortly after leaving the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) a report was received from the Chief Warden of the Skeleton Coast Park of an incident where tourists were threatened by a lion at the Uniab Delta. Plans to continue searching for the Hoanib lionesses were abandoned to investigate the incident. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) was found approximately 70 metres east of the road and an evaluation of the tracks suggested that a tourist vehicle spotted the lion and drove slightly off the road, presumably to get a better view (photo: top left). The tracks also suggest that the tourists got out of their vehicle close to the lion, which could have triggered an aggressive response from the lion. A shoe was found lying nearby (photo: bottom left) – perhaps lost by its owner whilst hurrying to get back into the vehicle. The rest of the day was spent observing Xpl-68. There was no change in his behaviour and it seems more likely that the incident was due to disturbance caused by the visitors.

20 Feb 2014. "Terrace Male" Injured. The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) is carrying injuries to his back legs and the tuft of his tail is missing (photos: top & bottom left). This may have occurred during his recent interaction with the two Hunkap males (Xpl-81 “Kebbel” & Xpl-87) on 14/15 Feb 2014 when they displaced him from the Hoanib River. Xpl-68’s tail was intact and he did not have any injuries when he was last observed on 10 Feb 2014.

19 Feb 2014. Aub/Barab Females. The lioness Xpl-49 "Nina", previously of the Obab Pride, and her two daughters were located between the Aub and Urunendis Rivers. They have formed a new pride with the two Aub/Barab males (Xpl-79 "Geronimo" & Xpl-80). All three lionesses are lactating and a total of six small cubs were estimated during a brief observation in the dark.

18 Feb 2014. Darting of Xpl-79. The infrared-sensitive video equipment, described on 7 Feb 2014 was used to great effect again during the darting of Xpl-79 “Geronimo” (see video-clip below). The lion recovered from the immobilisation and was joined by his brother (Xpl-80). The area was searched for the whereabouts of the pride lionesses.

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17 Feb 2014. Xpl-79. An adult male (Xpl-79 “Geronimo”) of the Aub/Barab pride was fitted with a GPS radio collar on 4 Nov 2012. The collar died prematurely and it was necessary to immobilise the lion and remove the collar in order to retrieve the movement data. A used VHF collar was fitted until such time as a satellite collar becomes available.

16 Feb 2014. Barab Lions. Several of the Barab lions were located between the Barab and Urunendis Rivers where there are large numbers of antelope feeding on the green grass. The lions were unfortunately lying inside a thick Salvadora bush and they could not all be identified.

15 Feb 2014. Barab River. The amount of recent rainfall increased further south and large concentrations of wildlife was found in the Urunedis and Barab Rivers. The Aub/Barab Pride was located near the lower Barab spring.

14 Feb 2014. Rain. Attempts to locate the Hoanib females inside their normal home range have been unsuccessful. Ungulates (like Oryx & springboks) have been quick to respond to the recent onset of rains on the gravel plains to the south and large herds were observed moving into the area. An adult female cheetah was spotted following the herds (photos: right middle & bottom). ** It appears that there was conflict between the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) and the two Hunkap males (Xpl-81 “Kebbel” & Xpl-87) in the Hoanib River last night. The movement data from their satellite collars suggest that the Hunkap males displaced Xpl-68 towards the south. The “Terrace Male” is, however, moving towards Hunkap spring! See movement data for Xpl-68 & Xpl-81. **

13 Feb 2014. Mudorib Spring. The only evidence of the Hoanib lionesses, in the form of tracks that were several days old, was found at the upper Mudorib spring on 5 Feb 2014. The widespread rain continued and the day was spent in overcast conditions and drizzling rain whilst search for the Hoanib Pride in the upper Mudorib River.

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12 Feb 2014. Floodplain Pride. A build-up of clouds yesterday afternoon resulted in widespread rains throughout the Hoanib River area during the night. The Floodplain Pride, including the “Five Musketeers”, was located several kilometres south of the Mudorib/Hoanib junction (photo: bottom right).

11 Feb 2014. Hoanib Pride. A large area has been covered whilst searching for the Hoanib lionesses (see map below). The red dots & yellow lines represent a statistical representation of their 1,725 sqr km home range between 2008-2012 and the blue lines are the routes covered during the search. No radio signals or fresh tracks have yet been found.

10 Feb 2014. Back to Hoanib. The progress of the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) was monitored as he walked back to the Hoanib River during the night. Efforts to locate the Hoanib Pride lionesses have been continued.

9 Feb 2014. Purros. The "Terrace Male" (Xpl-68) was monitored for most of the night. He was skittish and the high number of donkeys moving freely in the area throughout the night made it very difficult to control the conflict situation. Fortunately, Xpl-68 moved out of the riverbed at 04h00 towards the southwest of Purros. There are large numbers of livestock in the Hoaruseb River that extend as far west as the border of the Skeleton Coast Park (photo: bottom middle). Serious conflict between the local communities and lions is inevitable. Whilst driving to Purros on 7/8 Feb 2014, evidence was found 6 km north of Mowe Bay where Xpl-68 dragged a large Cape Fur seal carcass inland for approximately 1.2 km (photo: bottom right) before consuming it. The signs were too old and windblown to determine if the lion killed or scavenged the seal.

8 Feb 2014. The "Terrace Male". With support from IRDNC, Wilderness Safaris, Okahirongo Elephant Lodge and Peter Sander in Swakopmund, a substantial effort was made to solve the conflict situation north of Purros. Xpl-68 killed several donkeys and the possibility of translocating him away from the danger area is being considered. A camera-trap in the lower Hoaruseb Gorge captured images of Xpl-68, a cheetah and many springboks.

7 Feb 2014. Technology. Darting skittish and retiring lions, such as those that are hunted and/or responsible for incidence of Human-Lion conflict, has been a source of endless frustration since the start of research on the Desert lion population in the mid 1980s. Approaching lions and darting can only be attempted at night, but the moment a light is used to aid the darting process, the more skittish lions would run away. With the aid of several donations (Joe Noci, Martin Schmidt, Andy Bachran, Bernd Kebbel & Onca Off-Road) a system was finally developed using infrared-sensitive video equipment to view and dart lions in total darkness. It is also possible to record the images for analysis. The attached video clip shows the darting of Xpl-94 without the aid of the moon or any visible artificial light.
** Efforts, involving several organisations & individuals, have been mobilised to address the potential conflict situation with the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) in the upper Hoaruseb River. **

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6 Feb 2014. Hunkap. A total of 9477 photographs were downloaded from the two camera-traps at Hunkap spring. Xpl-53 “Charlotte” of the Hunkap Pride was located in one of the upper Mudorib tributaries. She was in the company of an unknown adult male. The male was immobilised and fitted with a VHF radio collar. At closer inspection the male (Xpl-94) was identified as the son of Xpl-49 “Nina”. Xpl-94 was last observed at the junction of the Barab & Aub Rivers on 10 Oct 2012. ** The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) remained in a dangerous area. With the help of IRDNC, the Purros Conservancy and Lion Officers (Colin) were informed of a potential conflict situation. If Xpl-68 does kill livestock roaming freely at night, intervention will be necessary to prevent further losses to the community and to prevent him being shot or poisoned. **

The “unknown male” observed at dusk Xpl-94 with the new Land Cruiser
Xpl-94 was darted at 21h25 Xpl-94 at Hunkap spring on 13 Aug 2012

5 Feb 2014. Search for Hoanib Lionesses. A large area between the Hoanib, Mudorib and upper Hunkap Rivers were covered in search of the Hoanib lionesses. There was very little wildlife between the Hoanib and Mudorib Rivers, but a green flush of grass on the Kharokhaob plains attracted large herds of Oryx, Hartmann’s zebras, ostriches & springboks. A camera-trap near the upper Mudorib spring was dislodged from its mounting and washed away by a flash flood that reached almost 2 meters earlier this year. ** The “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) is in the upper Hoaruseb River where there are many livestock. Xpl-73 “Rosh” returned to Okongwe and appears to have joined the Okongwe lionesses for the first time in many months. **

4 Feb 2014. "Kebbel". Two adult males (Xpl-81 “Kebbel” & Xpl-87) were located on top of a high mountain ridge (photos: top left) at sunset in the southern section of Okongwe. They were observed during the night with the aid of infrared sensitive camera equipment. Efforts are underway to locate the lionesses of the Hoanib Pride (Xpl-47 “Bianca” & Xpl-59 “E=MC^2”) in order to fit a new satellite collar. Hopes are that the two males will meet-up with them. A camera-trap at Okongwe waterhole recorded images of the Okongwe Pride and the many ungulates that also drink there (photos: top & bottom right).

3 Feb 2014. Gravel Plains. The recent rainfall caused large numbers of Oryx to concentrate on the gravel plains along the edge of the Skeleton Coast Park. Several lions, including the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68), “Rosh” (Xpl-73) & “Angela” (Xpl-75) followed the movements of the prey.

2 Feb 2014. River Flood. Images retrieved from a camera-trap in the Hoanib River shows the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) passing close to the camera (photo: top left) in order to avoid the flooding water at 06h24 on 20 Jan 2014 (photo: bottom left).

1 Feb 2014. Hoanib. The Floodplain pride moved into very mountainous terrain close to the Mudorib River. The Hoanib River has dried up after the floods of 19/20 Jan 2014 and many animals have returned to the riverbed.