News - 2015


August

31 Aug 2015. Huab River Mouth. The Huab Pride lionesses and four large cubs were located in the lower Huab River. They were hunting for Oryx amongst the vegetation and broken terrain of the dry riverbed 3.5 km from the mouth of the Huab River.

30 Aug 2015. "Musketeers". The second public screening of “Vanishing Kings” in Swakopmund went well with approximately 150 people attending the event at The Dome. Alta Bredenkamp is thanked for all the arrangements and Gernot Fritze for an outstanding audio-visual display. The “Five Musketeers” are still separated with Xpl-89 “Harry”, Xpl-90 “Polla” & Xpl-92 “Adolf” near Elephant Song and the other two returning to the Hoanib via the Mudorib River (see map).

28 Aug 2015. The Dome. The second public screening of the film “Vanishing Kings” in Swakopmund takes place at The Dome this evening at 18h30. The “Five Musketeers” have separated and two of them (Xpl-91 “Ben” & Xpl-93 “Tullamore”) have followed the Hoanib Pride lionesses towards Hunkap spring (see map).

26 Aug 2015. Cheetah Movements. The cheetah, Xaj-1, fitted with a satellite collar (see 4 Aug 2015) has favoured the tributaries north of the Hoanib River. The movements of Xaj-1 are indicated on the map below where the yellow numbers indicate the sequential days. Over a period of 15 days the cheetah moved 96.5 km at an average of 6.1 km per day. The minimum distance was 300 metres in a day and on two occasions the cheetah moved > 16 km per day (16.3 & 16.6 km). An index of activity (distance moved as a proportion of total distance per day) indicates that the highest period of activity was during the early morning (see graph).

25 Aug 2015. Two Screenings. Wilderness Safaris hosted two successful screenings of the film “Vanishing Kings” in Cape Town and Johannesburg respectively. The screenings were well attended and the discussions that were held during question/answer sessions generated a lot of interest. Carli Flemmer & Tracey Jaffe are thanked for arranging two memorable events.

24 Aug 2015. Computer Problems. The Desert lion Project would like to apologise for the lack of website updates during the past three days. This was due to a computer problem that has now been rectified.

20 Aug 2015.“Vanishing Kings”. Two unsuccessful nights were spent trying to immobilise one of the Okongwe lionesses in order to fit a satellite collar, but they were extremely skittish. The “Five Musketeers” remained in the lower part of the Hoanib River after they consumed the giraffe carcass. Fieldwork has been stopped for a week to attend to three additional premiere screenings of the film “Vanishing Kings” in South Africa and at the Dome in Swakopmund on 28 Aug 2015.

19 Aug 2015. Okongwe Lionesses. The Okongwe Pride was tracked in an effort to fit a new satellite collar to one of the lionesses. The lions were captured numerous times on the camera-trap in the area (photos below).

18 Aug 2015. Giraffe Carcass. The “Five Musketeers” were feeding on their giraffe kill in the lower Hoanib River whilst the two Floodplain lionesses killed an adult female Oryx on the Hoanib Floodplain approximately 4 km further east.

17 Aug 2015. Giraffe Kill. A sand/dust storm engulfed the lower Hoanib River during the afternoon and visibility was reduced to <100 metres at times. The “Five Musketeers” were quick to take advantage of the conditions and started hunting along the riverbed. They had two failed attempts on a herd of Oryx and a single giraffe bull, before they succeeded in killing an adult female giraffe.

16 Aug 2015. "Musketeers". The “Five Musketeers” returned from their excursions into the mountains of the Obias and Ganamub rivers. They arrived at Amp’s Poort at sunrise. The entire area was covered in a thick blanket of fog and the lions used the conditions to hunt for springboks and Oryx (photos below).

15 Aug 2015. Oryx. The Hoanib River is currently a hive of activity as large numbers of Oryx and springboks are visiting the ephemeral riverbed to feed on the green vegetation. The large carnivores, such as cheetahs, brown hyaenas and the lions, are observed regularly along the riverbed and they are all in good condition.

14 Aug 2015. Floodplain Lionesses. The “Five Musketeers” have been spending time in the mountains between the Obias and Ganamub Rivers, whilst their mothers have remained on the Hoanib Floodplain. There are abundant prey utilising the Floodplain and the lionesses killed an adult Oryx on 12 Aug 2015.

13 Aug 2015. Cheetah. The movements of the first cheetah (Xaj-1) fitted with a satellite collar (see 4 Aug 2015) have been interesting. Over a period of 7 days the cheetah moved 23.9 km at an average of 3.4 km per day. An attempt was made to fit another satellite collar to a cheetah at Amp’s Poort (photos below), but the animal remained in the mountains and could not be approached.

12 Aug 2015. Floodplain. The two Floodplain lionesses (Xpl-55 & Xpl-69) were located on the eastern section of the Hoanib Floodplain where they were observed stalking a herd of Oryx.

11 Aug 2015. Ugab Mouth. The Ugab males (Xpl-98 & Xpl-99 “Gretzky”) moved further inland into an inaccessible area north of the Ugab River. A more detailed assessment of their tracks at the mouth of the Ugab River revealed that they killed two juvenile Oryx at the small lagoon next to the beach. The two males ventured onto the beach where their tracks had been washed away by the high tide. This marks the first known visit by lions to the mouth of the Ugab River for more than 20 years.

10 Aug 2015. 99 "Gretzky". The Ugab lions occupy the southern frontier of the current distribution of the Desert lion population. They are important individuals that could potentially disperse towards the Swakop River and the Namib Naukluft Park (see News 25 Feb 2015). In order to effectively monitor the Ugab lions a substantial effort was made during the past three days to fit a VHF radio collar. A sub-adult male Xpl-99 “Gretzky” was immobilised last night and the collar was fitted (photos below). Xpl-99 is a cub of Xpl-75 “Angela” and our behavioural data suggest that the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) was his father.

9 Aug 2015. Ugab Males. The two Ugab males continued moving in an easterly direction along the Ugab River. They rested inside a thick stand of reeds 39 km from Ugab Gate.

8 Aug 2015. Ugab Gate 2. The tracks of the two Ugab males were reconstructed as they explored the mouth of the Ugab River (see map). The lions moved further inland and they were resting 13 km from Ugab Gate during the day (photo bottom right).

7 Aug 2015. Ugab Gate. Two sub-adult male lions (Xpl-98 and his brother) of the Ugab Pride have spent the past three days <8 km from the mouth of the Ugab River. Last night they crossed the main road at Ugab Gate and were resting amongst the reeds 1.4 km from the ocean (photos below).

6 Aug 2015. Hoanib Activities 2. The nocturnal movements of the “Five Musketeers” between the Hoanib Floodplain and the Obias junction have been extensive as they juggled for positions to copulate with the Hoanib lioness. Xpl-91 “Ben” made a valiant effort to keep his brothers away from the oestrous lioness (Xpl-59), but he was no match for the persistence of the four sub-adult males.

5 Aug 2015. Hoanib Activities. Three of the “Musketeers” (Xpl-89, Xpl-90 & Xpl-92) returned to the Hoanib River and joined the lioness (Xpl-59) that is still in oestrous close to the Obias junction.

4 Aug 2015. Cheetah. The Desert Lion Project is collaborating with the Ministry of Environment & Tourism on a Namibian cheetah project. An adult male cheetah was immobilised in the Hoanib River and fitted with a satellite collar.

3 Aug 2015. Mating "Musketeer". Xpl-91 “Ben” displaced his four brothers and stayed with the lioness Xpl-59. They were observed copulating several times during the day. Xpl-93 “Tullamore” joined the Pride lionesses on the Hoanib Floodplain whilst the remaining three males moved south of Amp’s Poort.

2 Aug 2015. Mating "Musketeers". The Hoanib Pride lioness, Xpl-59 “E=MC^2”, did not conceive when she mated with some of the “Five Musketeers” during mid July 2015 (see 10 & Jul 2015). Two weeks later she came into oestrous again and the “Musketeers” found her in the same part of the Hoanib River. Two of the “Musketeers” (Xpl-90 “Polla” & Xpl-91 “Ben”) remained with the lioness. Even though the males are only 3.5 years old (males are sexually mature at 4 years) they were both observed copulating successfully with the 11-year-old lioness.

1 Aug 2015. Uniab Delta. The Obab Lionesses were observed close to the beach at the Uniab Delta. They were fully fed and the remains of an Oryx carcass were found nearby.