News - 2015


March

31 Mar 2015. Terrace Bay Lions. Early in March 2015 a sub-group of the Obab Pride (Xpl-45 “Lovechild” & her three sub-adult daughters) discovered the Uniab Delta and the abundant prey animals that visit the springs close to the coast. They have since returned regularly and have spent the past week hunting ostriches and Oryx at the Delta. The Desert Lion Project has agreed to assist and supervise Joshua Kazeurua, the Skeleton Coast Park Warden based at Ugab Gate, to conduct a research study towards an academic degree. The study will focus on evaluating the impact of lions, such as the Obab females, repopulating the coastal areas of the Skeleton Coast Park and developing management options to limit potential conflict between lions and tourists visiting the Park. A new web page that will present the daily movements of the Obab Lionesses has been developed. This information is aimed at assisting Joshua with his studies and to provide regular updates to Namibia Wildlife Resorts at Terrace Bay.

30 Mar 2015. Social Dynamics. Observations on the Floodplain Pride revealed that both lionesses are currently in oestrous. All five “Musketeers” responded to the pheromones and approached the lionesses to investigate (photos: below). The lionesses, however, were intolerant of the young males and behaved aggressively towards them (photo: bottom right).

29 Mar 2015. Reunion. During the night the “Five Musketeers” walked 18.4 km to reunite with their mothers (Xpl-55 & 69) at Sima Hill. All seven members of the Floodplain Pride were located against the western slopes of Sima Hill (photos: below).

28 Mar 2015. Sima Hill. The two Floodplain lionesses (Xpl-55 & 69) are still in the Sima Hill area where there have been feeding on Oryx that were attracted to the area by a flush of green grass. The two lionesses have now been separated from the sub-adult males (the “Five Musketeers”) for 15 days.

27 Mar 2015. Hunkap Male. After the Hunkap Male (Xpl-87) was relocated to the Mudorib River on 24 Mar 2015, he did not return directly to the conflict area east of Elephant Song. Xpl-87 is currently in the mountainous area to the northwest of Orowau (see map below).

26 Mar 2015. Dart "Five Musketeers". New satellite collars were fitted to the “Five Musketeers”. The five sub-adult males were located in the southern section of Okongwe where they were immobilised and the new collars fitted. The sponsors of the “Five Musketeers” are thanked for their continued support. The “Musketeers” were in good health and they recovered well from the anaesthetics. When attempting to dart Xpl-93 “Tullamore”, he unexpectedly flicked his tail and the dart, aimed at his rump, hit his tail (see photo: top right).

24/5 Mar 2015. Hunkap Male in Danger. An adult male (Xpl-87) from the Hunkap Pride was located 7 km east of Elephant Song. Pastoralists to graze their cattle currently use this area. The lion was lying in an inaccessible place with thick vegetation and it was not possible to ascertain whether he had killed any livestock, but conflict was inevitable because approximately 50 head of cattle were observed in the vicinity. The decision was made to immobilise Xpl-87 and move him away from the danger zone. At 03h45 he was released in the Mudorib River 55 km to the west, which is also the western edge of his current home range (photos below).

23 Mar 2015. New Collars. Preparations are being made to immobilise all five “Musketeers” and replace their satellite collars. The new collars should last for two years, but they would have to be lengthened after 12 months to accommodate the growth of the sub-adult males.

22 Mar 2015. Sima Hill. The two Floodplain lionesses (Xpl-55 & Xpl-69) remained in the area of Sima Hill and Ganias spring. A flush of green grass that followed localised rain showers a fortnight ago has attracted herds of Oryx and springboks.

21 Mar 2015. Cheetah. A big effort was made to locate and immobilise an adult male cheetah in the Hoanib River (photos below) in order to fit a satellite collar for a study conducted by the Ministry of Environment & Tourism. The cheetah was unfortunately too skittish and could not be darted. The Hunkap male (Xpl-87) is currently close to people and livestock east of Elephant Song.

20 Mar 2015. Giraffe Hunters. The “Five Musketeers” learnt how to hunt giraffes from the “Queen” (Xpl-10 – see 20 May 2009). The young males still lack the skill and expertise of Xpl-10 and the adult lionesses, but they have no hesitation and show no fear when it comes to hunting giraffes – even an adult male giraffe (photos: below).

19 Mar 2015. Floodplain Females. The two Floodplain lionesses left the five sub-adult males in the Hoanib River and moved north of Sima Hill where they were observed hunting springboks.

18 Mar 2015. Hoanib Males. The “Five Musketeers” have been separated from their mothers for six days. During this period they moved up and down the Hoanib River, between the Floodplain and the “President’s Waterhole”.

17 Mar 2015. Dust Storm. A strong south-westerly wind picked-up at midday and by 14h00 it had turned into a massive dust/sand storm that covered the entire Hoanib valley. At times the visibility was less than 1 metre. The “Musketeers” used the conditions to their benefit by trying to catch an adult male giraffe.

16 Mar 2015. Cooperative Hunting. Springboks are vigilant and fleet-footed prey animals that are generally difficult to catch. When lions cooperate they increase their chances to succeed. As the observed number of hunts by the “Five Musketeers” increase (photos: below) a pattern of individual role-playing in a coordinated cooperative strategy are emerging. See Cooperative Hunting for an explanation of cooperative hunting by lions.

15 Mar 2015. Five Brothers. The five sub-adult males of the Floodplain Pride, known as the “Five Musketeers”, were observed as they hunted along the banks of the lower Hoanib River (photos: below). Their cooperative hunting skills have improved substantially and they appear to be well equipped to survive on their own.

14 Mar 2015. "Musketeers". All five “Musketeers” were located and observed on the eastern edge of the Hoanib Floodplain (photos: below). Two days ago the Floodplain lionesses moved towards Ganias spring and they have not yet returned.

13 Mar 2015. Uniab Dunes. The Obab lionesses were observed hunting an ostrich in the dunes east of the Uniab Delta (photos: below). A reconstruction of their tracks confirmed that they killed an adult Oryx at a spring near the coast on 11 Mar 2015. The “Five Musketeers” were located on the eastern edge of the Floodplain.

12 Mar 2015. Satellite Collar Donations. The Desert Lion Project would like to acknowledge several generous donations towards satellite radio collars. TOSCO sponsored three satellite collars over the past 18 months, including a new collar that arrived today. A batch of eight collars was received from Africa Wildlife Tracking. The collars were donated by: TOSCO, Ms. Ingrid Schumann, Mr. Lez Weintrope and the five sponsors of the “Five Musketeers”. The Obab lionesses were located on the edge of the dunes near the mouth of the Uniab River (photo: below).

10/11 Mar 2015. Coast. The Obab lionesses have returned to the coastal area around the mouth of the Uniab River. This may become a regular occurrence because it is their second visit in three weeks. The Hoanib River has come down in flood for the third time this season.

9 Mar 2015. Request for Information. Another brown hyaena was killed along a public road. The fresh carcass of a young adult female was found near Vergenoeg on the B2 main road from Swakopmund (photo: below left - by Mr H Verwey). The Desert Lion Project is preparing a proposal to the Ministry of Environment & Tourism and the Roads Authority for the erection of Advanced Warning Signs (photo: below middle) to alert vehicles traveling along key section of the Dorob & Skeleton Coast Parks and the surrounding areas. A request is made for any information on brown hyaena mortalities along the roads in the northwest of Namibia during the past five years. An email with the date, approximate location, photos (if available) and any additional information of dead brown hyaenas observed along the main roads can be sent to contact@desertlion.info. This information will assist the authorities in identifying the key locations to erect the signs.

8 Mar 2015. Suricates. The Floodplain Pride moved deeper into the granite hills south of Sima Hill. A small clan of approximately 20 suricates were observed close to the lions.

7 Mar 2015. "Musketeers". The two males “Adolf” (Xpl-92) and “Ben” (Xpl-91) moved through the western Okongwe hills and joined-up with the rest of the “Musketeers”.

6 Mar 2015. Granite Hills. The Floodplain Pride consumed the zebra carcass and then moved in a southerly direction and disappeared amongst the granite hills east of Sima Hill. The two missing young males “Adolf” & “Ben” are still searching for the rest of the “Musketeers”.

5 Mar 2015. Zebra Kill. The Floodplain lionesses and the rest of the “Musketeers” killed an adult female Hartmann’s zebra in a wash near the Tsuxib River at dawn. They were observed feeding for most of the day. The remaining two “Musketeers” (Xpl-91 & Xpl-92) moved westwards during the night, but they have not yet re-joined the rest of the Pride.

4 Mar 2015. "Musketeers". The two “Musketeers” (Xpl-92 “Adolf” – photo: top left and Xpl-91 “Ben” – photo: top right) were observed during the night as they followed four Okongwe lionesses for 15 km in an easterly direction towards the Obias River. The Okongwe females consist of 2 adults (Xpl-70) & 2 sub-adults (see camera-trap photos: bottom row).

3 Mar 2015. Floodplain vs. Okongwe. The Floodplain Pride and the “Five Musketeers” moved out of the mountainous terrain towards the Tsuxib River. During the night they encountered the surviving members of the Okongwe Pride. Two of the “Musketeers” (Xpl-91 “Ben” & Xpl-92 “Adolf”; photos below) separated from the Pride and were observed following and stalking one of the Okongwe lionesses. Fabrizio Barbera of Wilderness Safaris is thanked for reporting his observations.

2 Mar 2015. Ugab Male. The young male lion (Xpl-98) returned to the Ugab River after spending four days in the Dorob National Park. He walked 75.8 km and turned around approximately 38 km from the Cape Cross seal colony.

1 Mar 2015. Hoanib Floodplain. Large sections of the Hoanib Floodplain have dried up and are now accessible by vehicle. The floodwaters of 24 Jan 2015 have caused dramatic changes to the old track and the major drainage lines (photo: top). Large numbers of herbivores and birds have been attracted to the lush green vegetation and pools of water. All the elephants that generally utilise the Hoanib River were observed in the western section of the Floodplain (photo: bottom). The Ugab lion (Xpl-98) has returned to the Ugab River.