News - 2015


May

31 May 2015. Black Honey Badger. A black adult male honey badger (possibly a melanistic form) was captured by a camera-trap on the Hoanib Floodplain (photos below). This individual, or a similar looking honey badger, was recorded on three different cameras along the lower Hoanib River during the past year.

30 May 2015. Uniab River. The Obab Lionesses were located west of the Obab/Uniab Junction where they killed an Oryx in the Uniab Riverbed. The terrain was too sensitive to approach them by vehicle and they were viewed from a distance of 600 metres (photos below).

29 May 2015. Sea Gulls. The Floodplain Pride killed an adult female Oryx in a wetland marsh between the dune hummocks 1.8 km from the coastline. The unusual sight of Kelp gulls visiting the carcass and scavenging on the scraps intrigued the lions.

28 May 2015. Coastal Habitat. The two Floodplain lionesses and two of the “Musketeers” have been hunting actively for Oryx in the broken terrain of the coastal habitat.

27 May 2015. Auses Giraffes. The three “Musketeers” (Xpl-89, 91, 93) that stayed behind on the Hoanib Floodplain after the rest of their pride moved to the coast (see 24 May 2015) are still in the vicinity of Auses spring where they have been hunting giraffes. Two impressive cooperative hunts on giraffes were observed where the three young males coordinated their stalking roles.

26 May 2015. Hoanib Pride. The main Hoanib Pride, consisting of two adult females (Xpl-47 & Xpl-59) with their four large cubs, was observed. The two male and two female cubs are now 18 months old. Detailed ID photos were collected of all four cubs and their individual vibrissae patterns were recorded (photos below).

25 May 2015. Dune Crossing. After they were done with the Oryx carcass the four Floodplain lions (see 24 May 2015) decided to continue through the dunes to Oasis spring and the coastal habitat. The cold conditions and heavy fog made for a comfortable walk through the dunes.

24 May 2015. Dunes. During the night the Floodplain Pride separated as the two lionesses and two “Musketeers” (Xpl-90 “Polla” & Xpl-92 “Adolf) moved through the dunes towards the coast. Shortly after midnight a thick layer of fog moved in from the sea and the lions captured an adult Oryx between the dunes. By sunrise they had consumed the Oryx carcass.

23 May 2015. Giraffe. The Floodplain Pride killed another giraffe in the thickets of the Floodplain near Auses spring. It is striking how much the sub-adult males (the “Musketeers”) have grown. They are now bigger than the lionesses (photo: bottom right).

22 May 2015. Floodplain. The Floodplain Pride returned to the Hoanib Floodplain during the night. The entire area was covered in thick fog for most of the morning. With the cold and foggy conditions the lions continued moving throughout most the day. Between 06h00 and 17h00 the lions walked >16 km as they criss-crossed the Floodplain several times.

21 May 2015. Elephants. Floodwaters of the Hoanib River reached the Floodplain on four occasions during 2015. Due to the availability of water and food the Hoanib elephants have spent the past three months on the Floodplain (photos: below). The Floodplain Pride moved northwards during the night and are expected to return to their normal home range.

20 May 2015. Oryx. The Floodplain Pride remained in the area south of the Hoanib River towards the lower Hunkap River. There are large herds of Oryx utilising the area at the moment and the lions have killed at least two adults during the past two days.

19 May 2015. Xpl-10. It is one year ago that the “Queen” (Xpl-10) died on the Hoanib Floodplain at the age of 16 years (see 13 – 18 May 2014). Her offspring and especially the “Five Musketeers” are continuing her legacy. This was demonstrated a few days ago when the "Musketeers" captured a giraffe on their own (see 13 May 2015).

18 May 2015. Lower Hunkap. The “Five Musketeers” and two Floodplain lionesses have expanded their home range to the south. This is the first major change in their movements since the death of the “Queen” (Xpl-10) that died one year ago.

17 May 2015. Hoanib South-2. The Floodplain Pride moved further south towards the lower Hunkap River. An encounter between them and the Obab lions seems likely during the next few days.

16 May 2015. Hoanib South. During the night members of the Obab Pride (including Xpl-22 and Xpl-47) were located in the lower Hunkap River. The Floodplain Pride moved south of the Hoanib Floodplain towards the Hunkap River (photos: below).

15 May 2015. Cheetahs. During the past two weeks an unusually large number of cheetahs were recorded in and around the Skeleton Coast Park between the Huab and Hoanib Rivers. The records consist of visual sightings (n = 7), spoor observations (n =12) and camera-trap photos (n = 21).

14 May 2015. Floodplain. After the “Five Musketeers” consumed the young giraffe, they moved westwards to the Hoanib Floodplain and reconnected with the two lionesses.

13 May 2015. Giraffe Kill. The first successful hunt on a giraffe by the “Five Musketeers” (without assistance from the lionesses) was witnessed this morning. Still covered in the blood from an earlier kill (presumably of a juvenile Oryx), the “Musketeers” spotted a giraffe cow and calf in the Hoanib River and started stalking them. Xpl-92 “Adolf” carefully stalked the giraffes for more than 90 minutes and approached them from behind (photo: top) before initiating the chase by driving the giraffes towards the rest of the “Musketeers”. The lions came very close to catching the adult female giraffe, but in the confusion of the hunt, Xpl-92 “Adolf” managed to bring down the calf, allowing the mother to escape. The young giraffe was consumed in less than two hours.

12 May 2015. Exploring. The “Five Musketeers” are starting to explore new hunting grounds without the guidance of their mothers. The young males moved >12 km south of the Hoanib River towards the lower Hunkap River where they were observed hunting Hartmann zebras during the night.

11 May 2015. Two Lionesses. The two Floodplain lionesses (Xpl-55 & Xpl-69) escaped the attention of the “Five Musketeers” and moved to the Floodplain where they were observed amongst the northern rock outcrops.

10 May 2015. Hoanib Camp. The “Five Musketeers” were observed moving through the Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp at 05h50 in the morning for a drink at the waterhole in front of the Lodge (photos below). It was encouraging to notice that the lions appeared fully aware of the people moving around in the Lodge and that they took caution to avoid those areas.

9 May 2015. "Five Musketeers". During the night the five sub-adult male lions reconnected and they were observed searching for and hunting Oryx along the southern bank of the Hoanib River. The lionesses moved further west towards the Floodplain.

8 May 2015. "Musketeers". The Floodplain Pride moved further east and was observed near Amp’s Poort. Four of the “Five Musketeers” separated from the Pride and killed an Oryx 4 km south of the Hoanib River.

7 May 2015. "Fever-delay". A bout of tick-bite fever delayed all fieldwork for the past four days.

3 May 2015. "Musketeers". The “Five Musketeers” and the two Floodplain lionesses moved out of the Hoanib Floodplain towards the border of the Skeleton Coast Park (see photos below).

2 May 2015. Artist. The Floodplain lions spent the day at Auses spring and during the night they moved into thick vegetation in the centre of the Floodplain. Below is a drawing of the “Terrace Male” by Marie Bester.

1 May 2015. Floodplain Pride. During the past three weeks the “Five Musketeers” and the two Floodplain lionesses utilised the area from Sima Hill to the Hoanib Floodplain. Flash floods down the Hoanib River during late March and April 2015 attracted large numbers of prey animals to the Floodplain and the lions have enjoyed the abundance of food.