News - 2014


November

30 Nov 2014. Black-backed jackals. A den with four small Black-backed jackal pups was discovered north of the Kharugaiseb River. The mother was observed visiting the den and suckling the pups.

29 Nov 2014. Obab Pride. During the night the Obab lions moved towards the Kharugaiseb River. A substantial effort was made to locate them so that a new satellite can be fitted to one of the lionesses, but the terrain was too sensitive and the lions could not be reached.

27/8 Nov 2014. Samanab Dunes. Several lionesses of the Obab Pride were located in the dunes north of the Samanab River. They killed an Oryx calf during the night and were observed hunting an ostrich during the day.

26 Nov 2014. Dunes. The Floodplain lionesses and the “Five Musketeers” moved into the dunes north of Auses where they killed an Oryx during the night.

25 Nov 2014. Camera-trap. Many valuable photographs of lions and other carnivores were retrieved from camera-traps in the Mudorib and Hunkap areas.

24 Nov 2014. Hoanib River. After the incident with the para-gliders, the Floodplain lions continued moving during the heat of the day and settled in an inaccessible area north of the Hoanib Floodplain. A presentation on the Desert Lion Project was given to guests of Wilderness Safaris at an outdoor dinner venue on the banks of the Hoanib River (photos: bottom row).

23 Nov 2014. Para-gliders. Three para-gliders are operating in the lower Hoanib area. They circled low over the Floodplain lions, which caused the lions to scatter in all directions. One para-glider then passed low over a brown hyaena den where we were busy with valuable behavioural observations. The brown hyaena cub at the den ran away and observations had to be abandoned. When the para-gliders were approached upon landing, they claimed to be unaware of the disturbance they had caused and agreed not to fly near the hyaena den or in the Skeleton Coast Park. The incident was reported to the Ministry of Environment & Tourism and to the Directorate of Civil Aviation.

22 Nov 2014. Westwards. The Floodplain lionesses and the “Five Musketeers” left the Hoanib/Mudorib area and moved westwards towards the Hoanib Floodplain.

21 Nov 2014. Cape Foxes. A camera-trap placed at the den of a Cape fox returned valuable information on the litter size and the age of the pups (see photos below).

20 Nov 2014. Brown Hyaenas. The “Five Musketeers” returned to their giraffe carcass again last night to gnaw on the bones. Four night of monitoring at the giraffe carcass produced interesting data on brown hyaena activities. Six different individual hyaenas were identified and an adult male was fitted with a VHF radio collar (photos: top left & middle).

19 Nov 2014. Clouds. The Floodplain Pride moved to the Mudorib River and they were observed drinking and the “President” waterhole. The past two days was unusually hot and big rainclouds were building in the east during the late afternoons.

18 Nov 2014. Giraffe Carcass. Two nights were spent observing behaviour and interactions at the giraffe carcass. The “Five Musketeers” and two lionesses of the Floodplain Pride consumed the entire adult female giraffe in two nights. Five different brown hyaenas, including Xhb-16 “Joey”, were also observed feeding on the remains.

17 Nov 2014. Whales. A small pod of whales (2 adults and a calf) were observed close to the mouth of the Hoanib River. They appeared to be Humpback whales, but the visibility was poor and several photos (see top right) contained images that could not be identified.

16 Nov 2014. Giraffe Kill. The Floodplain Pride killed a giraffe on the south bank of the Hoanib River. Apart from a bit of disturbance due to a large number of tourist vehicles approaching the carcass to view the lions, they appear calm and relaxed.

15 Nov 2014. Floodplain Lions. After the helicopter departed with the Cineflex camera, time was spent reconciling the amazing events of past few days. The valuable video & image files and observation data were processed and logged. The digital files amounted to a staggering +3 Terra bytes. The Floodplain lionesses and the “Five Musketeers” were located. They are being observed to determine if the presence of the helicopter during the past few days caused any noticeable disturbance.

14 Nov 2014. Aerial Success. The aerial filming was completed this morning with phenomenal success. The quality and uniqueness of the material recorded surpassed all expectations. Favourable weather conditions during the latter part of the filming and the movements of the Hoanib Floodplain Pride contributed to the success. But, it was the skills of both Jan du Preez (helicopter pilot) and Jonathan Genis (who operated the extraordinary Cineflex camera - one of only four similar units in the world), which made it all possible. **Note: bottom left & right photos were taken at the same time.**

The Desert Lion Project would like to thank the following organisations and individuals for their help in making this such a successful operation: Into Nature Productions (Lianne & Will Steenkamp), Wilderness Safaris (Emsie, Clement, Brecit & Petrus), the Ministry of Environment & Tourism, the National Film Commission, Namibia Helicopter Services (Jan du Preez) & Jonathan Genis (Cineflex camera).

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13 Nov 2014. Desert Lion Film. With support from the Ministry of Environment & Tourism, the National Film Commission, IRDNC and Wilderness Safaris, the Desert Lion Project is collaborating with Into Nature Productions to produce an international wildlife documentary on the natural behaviour of Namibia’s desert-adapted lions. The MET staff of the Skeleton Coast Park participated with the aerial filming along the lower Hoanib River.

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With support from the major broadcasters (see 12 Nov 2014) a helicopter, equipped with a Cineflex camera, has been commissioned to capture scenic images of the desert environment. These images are essential to reveal the vastness and beauty of the habitat utilised by the lions. The weather conditions improved significantly and spectacular video material was recorded during the past 24 hours.

12 Nov 2014. Aerial Filming. The overcast skies clear up during the night and it provided ideal conditions to utilise an unique opportunity to record the dramatic landscapes of the lower Hoanib River with the aid of advanced technology in cinematography. In collaboration with Into Nature Productions, ORF-Universum, Smithsonian Channel & Arte, the latest Cineflex camera with RED Dragon technology was used to capture the vastness and beauty of the terrain inhabited by the Floodplain lions. More details on this filming initiative will follow.

11 Nov 2014. Cineflex. Overcast conditions hampered the first flight and aerial filming of the granite boulders and gravel plains south of the Hoanib River.

10 Nov 2014. Camera-trap Monitoring. A large number of valuable photos were retrieved from the array of camera-traps along the Hoanib River. The movements of the Floodplain Pride (photo: top left) were confirmed on the Floodplain. There were several interesting images of brown hyaenas, an African wild cat and cheetahs. Including a cheetah that had lost its tail (photo: top right). The helicopter arrived and final preparations are being made for the aerial filming (see 7 Nov 2014).

9 Nov 2014. Road Kill. An adult brown hyaena carcass was found next to the main road south of Ugab Gate. A reconstruction of the tracks and signs suggests that a vehicle collided with the hyaena approximately one week ago. This is the second brown hyaenas mortality in the same area during the past eight months. A request will be submitted to the Roads Authority and the Ministry of Environment & Tourism for the erection of Advanced Warning Signs to alert vehicles traveling along this section of the Dorob and Skeleton Coast Parks. The Brown Hyaena Research Project initiated the development of unique warning road signs for brown hyaenas in the Luderitz area (photo: bottom right).

8 Nov 2014. Rain Drops. High clouds covered a large section of the northern Namib and light showers were recorded during the night and early this morning along the Skeleton Coast.

7 Nov 2014. Aerial Filming. Preparations are underway to conduct aerial filming using a gyro-stabilised high-definition Cineflex camera.

5/6 Nov 2014. Land Cruiser. Swakop Body Works attended to the research vehicle for a few minor repairs and modifications.

4 Nov 2014. The Story of Xpl-68. Data analysis and a compilation of all available information are underway to produce a publication on the life-story of the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68).

3 Nov 2014. Smaller Carnivores. Baseline data on the distribution and density of other carnivore species have been recorded in the study area for the past 16 years. With the increase in tourism activities in the lower Hoanib River and the implementation of a systematic monitoring system by Wilderness Safaris, it was decided to collect more detailed information on their ecology. A basic VHF radio collar was fitted to a caracal and to a Cape fox (photos below). Both individuals were lactating females. Their movements and activities are being monitored.

2 Nov 2014. Honey Badger. The “Five Musketeers” of the Floodplain Pride killed an adult honey badger. Initially the five young males were merely inquisitive, but when the brave and desperate badger started attacking them, they became aggressive and killed it.

1 Nov 2014. Okongwe Mortality. A young lioness of the Okongwe Pride, to whom a new satellite collar was fitted on 13 Aug 2014, died of unknown causes. She was last observed in the Okongwe Mountains on 18 Oct 2014. The location data received from the satellite collar showed that she was still alive on the morning of 23 Oct 2014 before the collar stopped transmitting. Three days later (26 Oct 2014) the carcass of the lioness was found at the same location of the last transmission by the satellite collar (photos below). The collar could not be located. This was reported to the Ministry of Environment & Tourism and the incident is currently being investigated. Desert Elephant Conservation and Wildness Safaris are thanked for their help.