News - 2015


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28 Feb 2015. Okongwe Pride. Five lions of the Okongwe Pride, including Xpl-71, were observed in the southern section of the Okongwe Mountains (see photos below by F Barbera). This is a valuable observation because it confirms that the radio-collared lioness (Xpl-71), one unmarked adult female and three sub-adults survived the conflict incidents near Tomakas village during the latter part of 2014 where three satellite-collared lions (Xpl-73 “Rosh”, Xpl-68 “Terrace Male” & Xpl-96) were killed.

27 Feb 2015. Five Musketeers. For the past 10 days the Floodplain Pride and the “Five Musketeers” have been favouring the mountainous terrain especially along the Sawarugab River approximately 10 km north of the Hoanib River. The area received some rain and there are many herds of zebras and Oryx. Due to the difficult terrain it has not been possible to observe them, but a brief sighting confirmed that they are all still together and in good condition. The Ugab male (Xpl-98) has moved further north and he is currently 12 km south of the Ugab River.

26 Feb 2015. Brown Hyaena Effort. Six nights and approximately 105 hours were devoted to the Amp’s Poort brown hyaena clan. The main effort went into attempting to fit a GPS collar to the Alpha female “Joey” (Xhb-16) whilst conducting simultaneous observations at the den. Despite a few missed opportunities, “Joey” was too clever for the darting efforts. She was seen at the den and carrying food back to the cubs on a few occasions (photos: top row). Observation on the two cubs included fascinating social behaviour, such as playing (photo: bottom right).

25 Feb 2015. Lion in Dorob Park -2. The Ugab male (Xpl-98) first moved further south towards Cape Cross during the night, but then turned around and headed back to the Ugab River (see map below). Another 24 hours were spent trying to dart “Joey” (Xhb-16) without success.

24 Feb 2015. Lion in Dorob Park. The sub-adult male lion (Xpl-98) that was recently marked in the Ugab River with a satellite collar (see 10 Jan 2015) has moved southwards into the Dorob Park. He is currently near the Messum River east of Mile 108 and his movements are being monitored. Efforts to capture Xhb-16 “Joey” (see 22 Feb 2015) continue. She is a wise old girl and the simple procedure of replacing her radio collar is proving to be rather challenging (see photos below).

23 Feb 2015. Floodplain. An attempt was made to access the Hoanib Floodplain by vehicle. Most of the flooded areas are dry, but there are still pools of water and muddy sections (photo: top). The brown hyaena “Joey” (Xhb-16) finally returned to the den (photos: bottom).

22 Feb 2015. Brown Hyaenas. Two nights were spent searching for the radio-collared brown hyaena, Xhb-16 “Joey”, in order to replace her ageing VHF radio collar with a newly modified GPS collar. Several members of her clan were observed (photo below), but “Joey” has not yet returned from a foraging expedition to the west where her radio signal was last heard.

21 Feb 2015. Hoanib River. Large sections of the Hoanib River have dried up after the major flooding event in January 2015 (see 24-28 Jan 2015). The powerful floodwaters changed the course of the river and uprooted several big trees (photos below).

20 Feb 2015. Camera-Trap. A camera-trap on the Hoanib Floodplain became submerged during the surprise flash flood on 24 Jan 2015 (photo: bottom right). The memory card was removed, dried and cleaned, and it was possible to retrieve all the images up until the camera was submerged and covered in mud. The floodwaters reached the camera at 10h54 (photo: left). Six minutes later the water levels had risen to the camera at a height of 1.9 metres (photo: top right) and at 11h03 the camera was totally submerged and stopped working (move mouse over bottom right photo).

19 Feb 2015. Missing Lioness. Photographs taken by Tina Vinjevold of the Agab Pride on 24 Oct 2014 revealed an interesting record. Using vibrissae spot patterns it was possible to identify one of the pride lionesses (Xpl-60 “Fay”) that has not been seen for more than two years after her radio collar failed and dropped off.

18 Feb 2015. Ohima Mountain. A new camera-trap was mounted near Ohima Mountain in the Hoanib Floodplain on 23 Jan 2015. After only three weeks a surprising number of valuable images of brown hyaenas, caracals and cheetahs were downloaded (see photos below).

17 Feb 2015. Responsible Tourism. The Ministry of Environment & Tourism, in conjunction with the communal conservancies and Wilderness Safaris, have placed signposts in and around the Palmwag Tourism Concession area (photos: top left & middle). These signposts provide guidelines and information to tourists visiting the area. Despite a prominent request for tourists NOT to camp at waterholes or in the Hoanib River, the following images (see photos below) were captured at the “President’s Water” (Hoanib/Mudorib junction). The “Five Musketeers” were clearly disturbed by the tourists camping next to the “President’s Water”.

16 Feb 2015. Mudorib. Several herds of Oryx and Hartmann’s zebras were observed in the upper Mudorib tributaries. Two young adult lionesses joined the Hunkap males (Xpl-81 & Xpl-87 during the night. The Hoanib lionesses (Xpl-47 & Xpl-59) were located in the Hoanib River east of Ganamub Poort. It was possible to drive along the Hoanib River between Elephant Song and the Obias Junction following the flooding of two weeks ago.

15 Feb 2015. "Kebbel". The two Hunkap males (Xpl-81 “Kebbel” & Xpl-87) were observed at sunrise near Orowau spring. They roared often during the coolness of the early morning. When it became hot towards midday, they moved in an easterly direction to find shade under a rock-overhang.

14 Feb 2015. Kuarokhaob. Images were retrieved from four camera-traps in the upper Mudorib River and at Hunkap Spring. The two Hoanib Pride lionesses (E=MC^2 & “Bianca”) and their cubs were recorded several times near the main Mudorib spring during the past two weeks (photos below). The Hunkap lioness (Xpl-53 “Charlotte”) with several lionesses and sub-adults were located in the northern section of the Kuarokhaob Plains and the Hunkap male (Xpl-87) was found 7 km east of Orowau spring.

13 Feb 2015. Obab River. A small sub-group of the Obab Pride was located near the junction of the Uniab & Obab Rivers (photo: left). Images downloaded from a camera-trap in the lower Obab River contained records of a male leopard and a breeding female brown hyaena (see photos below).

12 Feb 2015. Brandberg Mountain. The Ugab lions are moving more regularly south of the Ugab River and along the northwestern slopes of the Brandberg Mountain.

10/11 Feb 2015. Cymot. The six new Cooper S/T tires, sponsored by Cymot, Namibia (see 5 Feb 2015), were fitted to the Land Cruiser. Detailed records (such as tire pressures, terrain & distances) will be kept during the next few months to evaluate the performance of the tires.

9 Feb 2015. Brandberg. The Ugab male (Xpl-98) has been spending time along the foothills of the Brandberg Mountain. Tracks suggest that he is in the company of 2 or 3 other lions. They are possibly hunting Hartmann’s zebras that utilise the area.

7/8 Feb 2015. Coast. During the past two days the Obab lionesses (see 30 Jan 2015) discovered the Uniab Delta and visited several of the springs near the mouth of the Uniab River. It is suspected that they made a kill in the reeds north of the Uniab River before they moved back towards the Obab River.

6 Feb 2015. Ugab Lion. The sub-adult male lion (Xpl-98) fitted with a satellite collar on 10 Jan 2015 has been moving up and down the Ugab River - between Brandberg and approximately 5 km east of the coast. The map below shows his movements (blue dots) during the past 24 hours.

5 Feb 2015. Tire Donation. Cymot Namibia approached the Desert Lion Project and made a substantial donation of six new Cooper tires. This initiative followed a period where the Project struggled with worn tires, with some tires having been patched far too many times (photo: left). Manfred Laborn and Francois Thirion of Cymot are thanked for facilitating the generous donation.

4 Feb 2015. Caracal. Data retrieved from the camera-traps on the western edge of the Hoanib Floodplain included pictures of the two Floodplain lionesses during one of the excursions without the “Five Musketeers” (photos: left & middle) and a valuable record of an adult male caracal (photo: right).

3 Feb 2015. "Yellow-billed Kites". Tens of thousands of Yellow-billed kites were observed south of the Huab River. They appeared to be feeding on termites. Large numbers were sitting in Mopane trees or on the ground, but the majority were flying - towering hundred of metres above ground level. The spectacle was reminiscent of the 1963 film “The Birds” directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

2 Feb 2015. "Joey". Monitoring of the brown hyaena den at Amp’s Poort is producing interesting data. The radio-collared female “Joey” (Xhb-16) and several other individuals are observed regularly. Records of the carcasses carried to the den suggest that the hyaenas eat a wide range of food items.

1 Feb 2015. Cheetah. A camera-trap that was mounted at a brown hyaena latrine under a granite rock overhang captured several images of a cheetah visiting the latrine or perhaps using the shade of the overhang.