News - 2015


June

30 Jun 2015. Elephant Song. Xpl-81 “Kebbel” moved away from Elephant Song to wards the Ganamub, but the Hoanib Pride has returned. The situation at Elephant Song has become problematic with the large number of livestock continuously attracting lions from different prides. Plans for the erection of protective holding pens have been activated. Discussions with the livestock owners have been encouraging. The livestock herder indicated yesterday that they are considering moving the cattle away from Elephant Song. IRDNC, Russell Vinjevold, Wilderness Safaris and TOSCO have been key in these developments.

29 Jun 2015. Vanishing Kings. The International wildlife documentary, “Vanishing Kings – Lions of the Namib”, has been completed. Into Nature Productions is planning a Premiere of the film in Windhoek on 17 Jul 2015 and Swakopmund on 18 Jul 2015. In collaboration with IRDNC and the local conservancies the film will then be screened in the Kunene Region during a “Road Show”. Details of these events will be posted shortly.

27 Jun 2015. Huab Pride. After darting Xpl-75 “Angela” and fitting a new satellite collar, the Huab Pride moved deeper into the mountainous terrain south of Mikberg. The two Huab lionesses (Xpl-75 & Xpl-76) are in good condition as well as the all the cubs from their second litters (2 sub-adult females & 1 sub-adult male for Xpl-75 and two large cub males for Xpl-76 – photo: below right). The conflict situation with the Hoanib Pride at Elephant Song appears to have escalated. A dramatic movement recorded by the satellite collar of Xpl-47 “Bianca” (see Hoanib Pride) early on 26 Jun 2015 suggest that they have been subjected to some form of disturbance. Monitoring of the satellite collar of Xpl-47 was intensified to hourly position intervals during the night. The male Xpl-81 “Kebbel” moved to the Hoanib and may also reach Elephant Song.

26 Jun 2015. Cheetahs. To monitor possible lion movements a camera-trap was mounted at the Oryx carcass that was killed by two male cheetahs (see 24 Jun 2015). Surprisingly, the two cheetahs returned to the carcass after they were disturbed and spent the whole night feeding (photos below). They defended the carcass against a spotted hyaena on two occasions. By morning the cheetahs had probably each consumed their own body weight in meat and they looked rather uncomfortable (photo: bottom right).

25 Jun 2015. "Angela". With a stroke of luck fresh tracks of the Huab lions were picked-up in a narrow wash south of Mikberg. After several hours of tracking and negotiating the difficult terrain, the lions were located on the watershed between the Huab and Ugab Rivers. To great surprise and relief Xpl-75 “Angela” was observed amongst the group. She was immobilised and fitted with a new satellite collar. Her old collar that came off in early April 2015 (see 13 Apr 2015) was measured against her neck and head (photo: bottom right). It is a mystery how she managed to get the collar off.

24 Jun 2015. Cheetah Kill. The tracks of the six Huab lions were lost in the mountainous terrain south of Mikberg. A lot of time has been invested to find the lions and they remain 1 or 2 days ahead of the search efforts. Whilst scanning the area and searching of tracks the fresh carcass of a juvenile Oryx was found. The Oryx was killed earlier this morning by two adult male cheetahs.

23 Jun 2015. Huab Lions. The tracks of the six Huab lions were located in a wash 15 km south of the Huab River where, on 21 Jun 2015, they disappeared in a large wetland area covered by reeds. The tracks were followed to Gai-Ais spring where images of the lions were captured by a camera-trap (photos below). The collared lioness was identified as Xpl-76 (the sister of Xpl-75 “Angela”, photo: right) and the unmarked lioness (photo: middle) is a sub-adult. The lions visited Gai-Ais two days ago. Their tracks were followed for another 14 km towards the southern section of Mikberg. It is highly likely that the VHF radio collar of Xpl-76 has failed.

22 Jun 2015. Chris Eyre. A Namibian legend in the conservation world passed away during the past week. Chris Eyre (photo: bottom right) was without question one of the most knowledgeable, committed, hard working and eccentric conservationists in Namibia. Over the past 40 years, Chris Eyre’s dedication to the wildlife & people of Namibia and his avant-garde / no-nonsense approach to conservation remains an inspiration to all who had the privilege of working with him.

21 Jun 2015. Tracks. The Huab lions moved further west along the Huab River. Fresh tracks were found and followed until the lions entered a marsh/wetland area. The wetland extends for approximately 7 km along the Huab River and is covered by reeds and sedges. The surrounding areas are being scanned for tracks, but it is likely that the lions are inside the wetland. Xpl-81 “Kebbel” moved away from the problem area at Elephant Song towards Orowau, but the Hoanib Pride (Xpl-47 “Bianca”) moved to Elephant Song during the night.

20 Jun 2015. More Searching. The six lions whose tracks were followed over the past two days have vanished. The search continues from the Huab Valley to the Ugab River. It is possible that they are the same individuals that caused problems at Vrede and Fonteine. Xpl-81 “Kebbel” moved past Elephant Song, but he is currently near another cattle post 7 km to the southeast.

19 Jun 2015. Searching. The tracks of the six Huab lions were lost when they moved through thick reed beds and into mountainous terrain. The search for Xpl-75 “Angela”, her offspring & the lions that caused problems at Vrede & Fonteine Pos continues. Photographs captured by the camera-traps (such as at Gai-Ais spring: photos below) did not contain any images of lions. Xpl-81 “Kebbel” moved to Elephant Song during the night.

18 Jun 2015. Difficult Terrain. The tracks of the Huab lions were followed for another 18 kilometres, but they could not yet be located. Reed beds cover large sections of the lower Huab River (photo: bottom) that restrict access. This complicates a comprehensive search effort.

17 Jun 2015. Huab River. The tracks of an adult lioness (photo: bottom left) were found north of the Huab River and 5 km from the coast. The tracks were followed through an area that Xpl-75 “Angela” utilised occasionally. A few kilometres further East the fresh tracks of six lions (adult female with several large cubs and sub-adults; photos: bottom middle & right) were spotted. These tracks were followed for 12 km until nightfall.

16 Jun 2015. Brown hyaena. A young female brown hyaena (XHb-18) was immobilised in the Hoanib River near Amp’s Poort and fitted with a VHF radio collar. The Floodplain Pride reconnected during the night and all seven lions moved north of the Hoanib Floodplain.

15 Jun 2015. Two "Musketeers". Xpl-90 “Polla” and Xpl-92 “Adolf” have been separated from the rest of the Floodplain Pride for the past week. They have been spending time in the dunes west of the Hoanib Floodplain.

14 Jun 2015. Orowau Pride. The three young lionesses (see 11 & 12 Jun 2015) were observed feeding on the remains of an Oryx kill 5 km north west of Orowau spring. All three lionesses appear to be the same age (+- 5 years) and good quality photographs were obtained from two of the three females. Their vibrissae spot patterns were matched with records of large cubs from the Hunkap Pride that were born during mid 2010. Xpl-53 “Charlotte” is possibly their mother. These observations support the hypothesis of 12 Jun 2015 that the lionesses have formed a new pride.

13 Jun 2015. New Collar. The spoor of Xpl-81 “Kebbel” was followed to the Hoanib River and he was located east of the Obias River. Xpl-81 was immobilised and fitted with a new satellite collar.

12 Jun 2015. Orowau. The three young lionesses were tracked and located east of Orowau spring. They appear to be a sub-group of the Hunkap Pride that separated and formed a new pride with Xpl-81 “Kebbel”. This will be confirmed with more observations and by studying their vibrissae spot patterns.

11 Jun 2015. Kebbel. The spoor of an adult male, several lionesses and small cubs were followed towards the upper Barab River. Xpl-81 “Kebbel” was located approximately 7 km southeast of Orowau spring. The satellite function of his radio collar failed on 3 May 2015, but the VHF transmitter is still working. Xpl-81 moved into mountainous terrain towards the East at sunset. During the night three young adult lionesses with six small cubs were observed. The age of the cubs range between 3 and 5 months.

10 Jun 2015. Stand-up Comedy. An effort was made to deter the Hoanib Pride (Xpl-47 “Bianca” & co.) from the Elephant Song area where large numbers of cattle are utilising the Hoanib River. Throughout the night the sound system was used to broadcast loud music and recordings of human voices, especially stand-up comedy shows with female or high-pitched male voices. The latter proved to be particularly annoying to the lions and they moved away from the danger area. (Thanks go to Bill Connolly & Ben Elton).

9 Jun 2015. Elephant Song. Due to a shortage of suitable grazing for large herds of cattle, pastoralists from the Sesfontein Conservancy had to move into the Hoanib River at Elephant Song to provide food and water for their livestock. Cattle were observed in the Hoanib River < 2 km east of the Ganamub Poort (see red crosses – map below). The Hoanib Pride (Xpl-47 & Xpl-59) were located, using the signals emitted by their radio collars, inside a thick reed bed (blue dot) with cattle grazing all around them (photos below). In an effort to assist the Sesfontein Conservancy, the daily movements of the Hoanib Pride will be posted (see above, or Current Locations / Hoanib Pride / Xpl-47).

8 Jun 2015. Hoanib Pride. The Hoanib Pride (Xpl-47 “Bianca” and co.) are currently in a dangerous situation. They are in the Hoanib River between Ganamub Gorge and Elephant Song where pastoralists have moved in with large numbers of livestock. Discussions are underway with the Sesfontein Conservancy and the tourism concession holders to find a solution to the potential conflict of interests.

6 Jun 2015. Oryx Dune Kill. During their trip back to the Hoanib Floodplain the two Floodplain lionesses and the two “Musketeers” (Xpl-90 “Polla” & Xpl-92 “Adolf”) killed an adult Oryx in the dunes (photos below).

5 Jun 2015. Hunting Oryx. When at the Uniab Delta the Obab Lionesses actively hunt for Oryx that visit the area to utilise the springs and green vegetation associated with the wetlands. An elaborate cooperative hunt (photos below) was observed where an Oryx was chased all the way down to the beach before it managed to escape (photo: bottom right).

4 Jun 2015. Coastal Cheetahs. Signs of cheetah movements are observed regularly in the Skeleton Coast Park where they venture deep into the hyper-arid part of the northern Namib. The abundance of prey animals at the Uniab Delta attracted an adult female cheetah with her adolescent cub. They were observed approximately 1 km from the beach (photo: below right).

3 Jun 2015. Uniab Delta. At daybreak the four Obab lionesses reached the coast. They crossed the main road to Terrace Bay (photo: top left) and were observed searching for prey at the numerous springs and wetlands of the Uniab Delta.

2 Jun 2015. Uniab River. The Obab Lionesses consumed their Oryx carcass in the lower Uniab River (see 30 May 2015) and started moving in a westerly direction towards the dunes and Uniab Delta. Tracks of an adult male lion were spotted, but the lion could not be located.

1 Jun 2015. Coastal Leopard. The fresh tracks of a leopard were observed at the mouth of the Uniab River (>1 km from the sea). The leopard killed a springbok near a spring at the Uniab Delta and dragged the carcass into a reed bed (photo: bottom left). Several images of leopards were also captured by two camera-traps situated in the lower Obab River (photos below).