25/26 Jun 2016. Mountains. The four male lions (“Musketeers”) entered the mountains south of Tomakas and they have remained close to a spring for the past two days.
24 Jun 2016. To Tomakas. The “Four Musketeers” moved down the Gomatum River towards Tomakas. At 01h30 they were < 1.5 km from the settlement, but they avoided the village and livestock as they skirted along a deep wash to the south.
23 Jun 2016. Return to Giraffe. Against expectations the four male lions descended from the mountains and returned to the remains of their giraffe kill at 02h30 this morning. They did not approach the Omiriu village and livestock. At 04h15 they left the carcass and moved in an easterly direction along the Gomatum valley.
22 Jun 2016. Dogs. The four male lions descended from the narrow gorge in the late afternoon and continued feeding on the remains of their giraffe carcass (photo: top left). Several domestic dogs from the village approached the lions at the carcass (photo: bottom left). The lions did not like the dogs hanging around and barking at them. One of the dogs was lucky to escape when the lions gave chase. At daybreak the “Four Musketeers” had consumed the giraffe carcass and headed for a gorge that leads to Okongwe waterhole. By 10h00 they had crossed over the first set of mountains.
21 Jun 2016. Giraffe. After spending the day in a narrow gorge the “Four Musketeers” moved down to the dry riverbed at 01h00 this morning and continued westwards towards Omiriu village. When 900 metres from the village they started stalking and it was feared that they were targeting the livestock. Moments before flashing lights and fireworks were deployed to scare them off it became apparent that they were actually hunting giraffes that were browsing along the riverbed. At 01h50 the lions killed an adult female giraffe near the water point 800 metres from the settlement. At sunrise the Ministry of Environment & Tourism was informed of the development. The lions were disturbed from the giraffe carcass. They moved away and returned to the narrow gorge where they spent yesterday. The remains of the giraffe carcass were then dragged to the base of the gorge 3.2 km northeast of Omiriu village (photo: bottom right). The livestock owners are commended for actively herding the livestock and ensuring that there are no stragglers moving around at night (photo: bottom left).
20 Jun 2016. Omiriu Village. The “Four Musketeers” spent the day in the mountains. They emerged this morning at 03h30 and continued moving westwards along the Gomatum valley. They reached Omiriu at 05h30, but did not approach the village. At daybreak the lions quickly moved to the safety of the mountains.
19 Jun 2016. Moonlight. Last night at 22h30 the “Four Musketeers” moved out of the Okongwe Mountains following the same route as the previous night (see map 18 Jun 2016). They were observed in the moonlight (photo: top left) as they avoided Tomakas and continued moving westwards along the Gomatum Valley. Fortunately there were no livestock roaming freely and at 03h00 this morning they killed an adult female Oryx 9 km west of Tomakas. Xpl-91 “Ben” is not showing any signs of discomfort from the bullet wound that he sustained a week ago (photos: bottom row).
18 Jun 2016. Setback. At 01h00 the four male lions (the “Musketeers”) moved out of the Okongwe Mountains (see map below) towards Tomakas, but they did not approach the village. Instead, the lions remained close to the edge of the mountains and headed in a westerly direction (map: red line) where several giraffes were browsing along the Gomatum valley. Unfortunately the lions encountered a small group of cattle calves that did not return to the safety of the corrals at Tomakas. The lions killed two calves 2.5 km west of Tomakas. Bright lights and fireworks were used to prevent the lions from approaching Tomakas. The wounded lion, Xpl-91 “Ben” (photos: bottom row), is making a remarkable recovery from the bullet wound to his lower abdomen.
17 Jun 2016. Movements. A summary of the movements of the male lions (the “Musketeers”) over the past six days is presented below. The route starts on 11 Jun 2016 (red line) and ends on 16 Jun 2016 (green line). During this period they actively hunted giraffes that frequent the Gomatum valley. They killed one giraffe and then an Oryx after two of the Okongwe lionesses joined them.
16 Jun 2016. "Four" Musketeers. The remaining four adult male lions (“Musketeers”) were observed during their return to Okongwe waterhole. Xpl-91 “Ben” is recovering from the bullet wound to his lower abdomen (photo: bottom right). He has spent a lot of time licking and keeping the wounds clean. Up until yesterday afternoon there has been no signs of infection. Two of the Okongwe lionesses spent the night at Otjizeka spring, but by morning they started moving back towards Okongwe.
15 Jun 2016. Omiriu Cattle Post. During the night the remaining four male lions (the “Musketeers”) continued moving towards Okongwe and they were south of the waterhole this morning. The Desert Lion Project assisted the Ministry of Environment & Tourism with their management and investigation of the incident. After all the biological data and other information were collected the carcass of Xpl-89 was burnt as a safeguard against the growing illegal trade in lion bones. The wounded lion (Xpl-91 – photo: middle left) appears to be recovering and he will be kept under observation for the next few days.
On the night of 10/11 Jun 2016 the “Five Musketeers” returned to the Gomatum River where they killed a giraffe the previous day and walked past the Omiriu cattle outpost. The lions approached the settlement with large numbers of livestock. One of the lions (presumably Xpl-92 “Adolf” – photos: bottom row) broke into a corral. Fortunately, due to the disturbance caused by the villagers and their dogs, the lions moved away without killing any livestock. The Ministry of Environment & Tourism are still busy with their investigation, but at some point between Omiriu and Otjizeka spring the villagers exercised their legal right to protect their livelihood by shooting at the lions.
|Images of the place where the lion breached the corral.||Xpl-92 “Adolf” with scars on face.|
14 Jun 2016. Xpl-89 "Harry". Finding the carcass of Xpl-89 inside the Salvadora thickets was challenging and required crawling for approximately 30 metres through the thick undergrowth (photos: top row). An autopsy was performed on the carcass and biological samples were collected. The lion died quickly from a single gunshot to the chest. The bullet passed through the heart and lungs. The remaining four male lions were monitored closely and the bullet wound to Xpl-91 “Ben” does not appear to be serious. Two Okongwe lionesses joined the males during the night and after sunrise they were all observed scaling the tall mountains to the south of the Gomatum valley.
13 Jun 2016. Conflict. When the five male lions (the “Musketeers”) moved past the temporary cattle post (12 km west of Tomakas) two days ago a human-lion conflict incident occurred somewhere between the cattle post and Otjizeka spring (15 km further west). The exact details of the incident are still unclear. Deep inside a Salvadora thicket at Otjizeka spring Xpl-89 “Harry” died of a mortal bullet wound to the chest during the early morning hours on 12 Jun 2016 (photo: bottom right). When the remaining four lions were observed at sunset, two of the males showed signs of injuries. Xpl-92 “Adolf” had a new wound on his right cheek (photo: bottom left) and Xpl-91 “Ben” appeared to have a bullet wound. The photos below suggest that he may have been shot in the lower stomach (photos: top middle & right and bottom middle). It would appear that the bullet passed straight through. The Ministry of Environment & Tourism was informed of the developments. The Purros Conservancy, MET, IRDNC, Okahirongo Elephant Lodge and DLP are all working together to defuse the tense situation.
12 Jun 2016. Okongwe Lioness. The “Five Musketeers” followed the Okongwe lioness (Xpl-70) in a westerly direction along the Gomatum River towards the Otjizeka spring 11 east of Purros. During the night the five males were observed hunting giraffes near the spring. By morning the lionesses had moved on, but the “Musketeers” were inside the thick Salvadora and Tamarisk vegetation at the spring.
11 Jun 2016. Gomatum River. The “Five Musketeers” have returned to the Gomatum River and moved further east. This exposes them to new dangers and an increased risk of human-lion conflict.
10 Jun 2016. Bats of the Namib. An interesting study is currently focussing on the factors influencing the community structure of bats in the Namib Desert. Theresa Laverty (Colorado State University) and Lina Mushbati (University of Namibia) are also looking at variations in echolocation as influenced by habitat and geographic location. Below is a female Angolan wing-gland bat caught in a mist-net at a waterhole near the Hoanib River. The bat weighed 3.5 grams.
9 Jun 2016. More Cattle. After the “Five Musketeers” consumed their giraffe kill they moved into a narrow gorge on the southern edge of the Gomatum valley. From this vantage point they had a clear view of a herd of cattle that grazed along the valley (photos below). After sunset bright flashing lights and fireworks were used to deter the lions from approaching the cattle and the temporary settlement situated 12 km west of Tomakas. The lions were reluctant to traverse the steep gorge and tried several times to move towards the cattle. Regular bursts of flashing lights and fireworks were maintained until 04h00 this morning when the lions scaled the steep mountain slopes and moved out of the valley towards Okongwe waterhole.
8 Jun 2016. Giraffe. During the day the “Five Musketeers” rested in a mopane thicket, but they remained fixated on several groups of giraffes that were browsing along the Gomatum valley (photo: left). After nightfall they continued pursuing the giraffes and eventually captured a sub-adult female on the southern slopes of the valley 10 km east of Tomakas. By sunrise this morning they had consumed the carcass (photo: bottom right).
7 Jun 2016. Musketeers Reunited. A lone female sheep was found after dark several kilometres from Tomakas village. The ewe became separated from the flock when she gave birth to twins. With the help of Rodney Tjavara (see 2/3 Jun 2016) the ewe and her two newborn lambs were loaded in the Land cruiser and transported to the safety of a corral at Tomakas (photos: below left). At 01h30 this morning the two groups of male lions (the “Musketeers”) converged on Tomakas to reunite. The lions avoided the village as bright flashing lights and fireworks were deployed on two occasions. At sunrise the “Five Musketeers” were observed hunting giraffes in the Gomatum River 8 km northeast of Tomakas.
6 Jun 2016. Giribis Plain. The three male lions (Xpl-89, 90 & 91) scouted the Giribis Plains up to 12 km south of Tomakas (photos below). Fortunately they decided to return to the Okomaruru Mountains before reaching the Ganamub Village where large numbers of cattle are grazing on the plains. The rest of the “Musketeers” are still in the Okongwe Mountains although they have moved closer to Tomakas.
5 Jun 2016. Success at Tomakas. At 02h00 this morning the three male lions (Xpl-89, 90 & 91 of the “Five Musketeers”) approached the Tomakas village. The livestock were all inside makeshift protective enclosures and there were no stragglers that the lions could target. When the lions reached a distance of 1.2 km from the village a combination of flashing lights, loud noises and fireworks were deployed (photos: bottom row). The lions responded instantly and moved away from the village. A reconstruction of their tracks later this morning revealed how they stopped, turned around and ran away from the disturbance (photo: top right).
4 Jun 2016. Corral for Tomakas. Camelthorn Safaris took the initiative to transport the materials and assemble a protective enclosure for livestock at Tomakas village (photos below). Fritz Schenk, IRDNC, Into Nature Productions, Wilderness Safaris and TOSCO are thanked for their respective roles in erecting the corral at Tomakas. During the past few weeks the management of livestock has improved substantially as both goats and cattle are herded into makeshift enclosures at night. The new corral will aid this process and will reduce the risk of human-lion conflict.
2/3 Jun 2016. Hero of Tomakas. Rodney Tjavara of the Purros Conservancy (photos: top & bottom left) has been instrumental in the management of human-lion conflict at the Tomakas village during the past three weeks. When three male lions (of the “Five Musketeers”) unexpectedly approached the village at 03h00 on 2 Jun 2016 Rodney reacted quickly and used his skill and training to chase the lions away using fireworks and whistles. The “Five Musketeers” separated on 2 Jun 2016 with three of the males (Xpl-89, Xpl-90 & Xpl-91) moving to Tomakas whilst the remaining two males stayed with the Okongwe lionesses at Okongwe waterhole.
1 Jun 2016. Back to Okongwe. The “Five Musketeers” have remained in the Okongwe Mountains near the Okongwe waterhole. The three small cubs of the Floodplain Pride are still alive and one of the lionesses is currently in oestrous.
29/30 May 2016. Back to Okongwe. The five male lions (the “Musketeers”) finally left the Tomakas / Okomaruru area and returned to the Okongwe waterhole where they joined the Okongwe lionesses. The female cheetah (Xaj-2) was observed north of the Hoanib River with her two small cubs.
27/28 May 2016. Tomakas Movements. The remainder of the giraffe carcass was moved away from the Tomakas village. The “Five Musketeers” are continuing with their perilous movement pattern of crossing back and forth between the Okongwe to the Okomaruru Mountains via the Tomakas village. The risk of a serious human-lion conflict incident is looming if the situation continues.
25/26 May 2016. Return to Tomakas. The rear diff of the Land Cruiser arrived in Swakopmund at 17h00 on the 25th May 2016. Koos Theron and Swakop Body Works worked until 21h00 to fit the diff and get the vehicle mobile (photos: top row). The Desert Lion Project would like to thank Koos Theron, Bernd Kebbel and Manfred Laborn for their support. Tomakas was reached last night after a 14-hour drive. The five male lions (the “Musleteers”) killed an adult male giraffe 1.5 km east of the village. The Tomakas community kept their livestock inside protective enclosures during the night and the lions returned to the Okomaruru hills after consuming the remainder of the carcass (photos: bottom row).
23 May 2016. Vehicle Repairs-2. Whilst the rear diff of the Land Cruiser is being repaired in Windhoek the opportunity was used to repair and service numerous items on the research vehicle, such as the rotating radio telemetry antenna, the rear fuel tank, etc.
21 May 2016. Vehicle Repairs. The rear diff of the research vehicle was removed at Swakop Body Works and sent to Windhoek for repairs. The damaged rear fuel tank was also removed and repaired.
20 May 2016. Musketeers avoid Tomakas. During the night the five male lions (the “Musketeers”) moved eastwards from the Okongwe Mountains onto the Giribis plains (see map below). Their movements suggest that they may have skirted around Tomakas in order to get to the Okomaruru area that they have been favouring for the past few weeks. The female cheetah (Xaj-2) returned to the lower Hoanib River with her two small cubs and Wilderness Safaris observed them on several occasions (photos: Liberty Eiseb).
19 May 2016. Vehicle Repairs. Driving the crippled research vehicle to Swakopmund was a time consuming affair as it became bogged-down in soft sand on numerous occasions due to soft sand deposited by the recent southwesterly winds. The “Five Musketeers” have not returned to Tomakas. The Hoanib lioness (Xpl-59) have returned yet again to the spot where her sister (Xpl-47 “Bianca”) was killed during a human-lion conflict incident 7 months ago (see Week 2 of Nov 2015).
16/17 May 2016. Okomaruru to Okongwe. The “Five Musketeers” approached the Tomakas area at 22h00 on 16 May 2016 on their way to the Okongwe Mountains. All the livestock were herded inside a protective enclosure and the lions were deterred from approaching the village with lights and fireworks. At 06h00 the lions circumvented the area and entered the Okongwe Mountains where they remained for the following night. The Ministry of Environment & Tourism and the Purros Lion Rangers are monitoring the situation whilst the Desert Lion vehicle will be repaired in Swakopmund during the following few days.
15 May 2016. Okomaruru. The Tomakas community was remarkably tolerant after the lions killed a cow near their village last night. The Headman, Japie Uraravi (photo: bottom far left), was appreciative of the efforts of the Ministry of Environment & Tourism, IRDNC and the Desert Lion Project. Throughout the night all the parties involved (including members of Tomakas) contributed to keeping the lions from approaching the livestock around the settlement. At 05h30 this morning the five male lions moved to Okomaruru spring in the mountains 7 km southeast of Tomakas.
14 May 2016. Failure at 04:00. The “Five Musketeers” were located at a spring in the mountains southeast of Tomakas. They were in good condition and had eaten recently. At 04h00 this morning the lions sneaked past the research vehicle and killed a cow close to the Tomakas village. The radio telemetry receivers failed to detect the VHF signals of their collars. For an unknown reason the frequencies of the collars shifted during the cold morning hours. Once corrected the lions were located and chased away from the village and into the mountains towards Okongwe. Allowing the lions to approach the village and kill a cow is a major setback to the conservation efforts.
13 May 2016. Guarding Tomakas. The Ministry of Environment & Tourism, the Purros Lion Rangers, IRDNC & the DLP teamed-up to monitor the situation at Tomakas village. During the night the five male lions (“Musketeers”) moved to a spring in the mountains 9 km southeast of Tomakas (map below).
12 May 2016. Kamanjab to Tomakas. The two-day workshop towards developing a Northwest Lion Management Plan held in Kamanjab was a success. The meeting was chaired by Kenneth /Uiseb of the Ministry of Environment & Tourism (photo: below left) and he is commended for skilfully facilitating difficult and sometimes heated discussions. The problem situation at Tomakas was discussed in detail. During the return trip to Tomakas the field vehicle had two flat tires and a rock damaged the fuel line.
10/11 May 2016. Tomakas to Kamanjab. The Okongwe lionesses and the “Five Musketeers” were displaced from the Tomakas village using sound playbacks and fireworks. The lions moved into the mountains towards Okongwe and they were 12 km southwest of Tomakas by sunrise. The Ministry of Environment & Tourism called a meeting in Kamajab to discuss the conservation of lions in the Kunene region and to develop a management plan to address human-lion conflict (photo below). The Desert Lion Project would like to thank Klaus Schubert, Wilderness Safaris and P de Wet for assisting with the transport and delivering of the supply of fireworks to Hoanib Camp.
9 May 2016. Heading for Tomakas. Hopes of reaching Tomakas and the “Five Musketeers” by nightfall were curbed because a supply of fireworks that were ordered from Windhoek two weeks ago has gone astray. In addition, along the way the field vehicle became stuck in soft sand on several occasions due to the broken rear axel.
8 May 2016. Finish. The last stage (10 km) of the 4 Deserts Race was completed in dramatic fashion at Torra Bay (photos below). The event was a great success with very little impact on the environment. The 4 Deserts Race Management, NWR and the Namibian support team should be commended for executing a flawless operation under difficult environmental conditions that provided valuable exposure to the Skeleton Coast Park and to Namibia. Efforts have now been turned to the “Five Musketeers” that are in danger of attacking livestock at Tomakas.
7 May 2016. Day 5/6. The demanding 77 km route of the fifth stage of the 4 Deserts Race was completed without incident. This was mainly due to the efficiency of the 4 Deserts Management and their Namibian support team. The last competitors arrived at the Torra Bay Camp at 11h45 (see comments & photos below).
|Athletes traversing the Uniab dunes.||Athletes passing by a checkpoint at 21h00.||Checkpoint 4 offered a valued rest stop.|
|The Finish line at 03h30 this morning.||Arrival of a competitor on the 24-hour mark||Applauded arrival of last athletes at 27h 43m|
6 May 2016. Day 5. The penultimate stage of the 4 Deserts Race takes the athletes down the Uniab River to the Uniab Delta, where the probability of encountering lions is highest, and then along the coastline to Torra Bay. The participants have two days to complete the gruelling 77.0 km and it is expected that many will run throughout the night. Efforts are in place to ensure the safety of the athletes. In the meantime the “Five Musketeers” followed the Okongwe lionesses back to the livestock at Tomakas village. With the help of Wilderness Safaris (Clement Lawrence) efforts were made last night to deter the lions from approaching the livestock grazing around Tomakas. The use of firecrackers and lights appeared to have worked as the lions moved into the hills to the southeast of Tomakas.
5 May 2016. Day 4. On the fourth day of the 4 Deserts Race the athletes started from the Springbokwasser Camp (photo: top) and followed the Old German Road for 41.0 km to the Uniab River. The route took them across vast basalt plains and past the spot where the Dorob Male (Xpl-77) killed a Hartmann’s zebra on 5 Jun 2013 (photo: bottom right).
4 May 2016. Day 3. The third stage of the 4 Deserts Race took the athletes along the Koigab River to Ugib spring (photo: 2nd row left) and then across the basalt plains to Springbokwasser (42.0 km). The area was scanned intensively, but there were no fresh signs of lion movements. The “Five Musketeers” have followed the Okongwe lioness (Xpl-104) and moved closer to Tomakas during the early morning hours.
3 May 2016. Day 2. Stage 2 of the 4 Desert Race (42.0 km) took the athletes along the coastline past a large seal colony to an old shipwreck and then across the gravel plains to the Koigab River at the main coastal road. The participants observed several brown hyaenas, including a hyaena carrying part of a seal carcass (photo: bottom right). During the night brown hyaenas damaged several plastic water bottles that were stored at the checkpoints (e.g. photo: bottom left). The “Five Musketeers” are still in the Okongwe Mountains.
2 May 2016. Day 1. The first day of the 4 Deserts Race was a success as 215 athletes from 43 countries started from the Huab Lagoon on a 37.3 km course that took them past an old oilrig and the abandoned Toscanini diamond mine. During the next 5 days they will run 42, 42, 41, 77 & 10 km per day respectively towards the total of 249.3 km of the Race.
1 May 2016. Safety. The areas surrounding the course of the 4 Deserts Race are being scanned continuously for signs of lion movements. There are approximately 25 lions (8 with radio collars) from four prides/groups that occasionally utilise the area around the 750 km course (photo below: the Obab Pride on 23 Mar 2016). The chances of lions moving through this area during the next seven days are slim, but precautions are taken to ensure the safety of the athletes.
30 Apr 2016. Searching. The lower sections of the Huab, Koigab and Uniab Rivers, where the 4 Deserts Race will take place are being scanned systematically for signs of recent lion activities.
29 Apr 2016. 4 Deserts Race. Attention has now been turned to the 4 Desert Race that starts at the Huab Mouth on 1 May 2016. The Land Cruiser is still driving only with its front axle, which has been challenging in the dunes.
28 Apr 2016. Okongwe Success. The “Five Musketeers” killed an adult female Hartmann’s zebra near the Okongwe waterhole. They had full bellies and were observed drinking at the waterhole.
|Xpl-89 "Harry"||Xpl-90 "Polla"||Xpl-91 "Ben"|
|Xpl-92 "Adolf"||Xpl-93 "Tullamore"||Xpl-89 "Harry" & Xpl-90 "Polla"|
27 Apr 2016. Okongwe Waterhole. During the night the “Five Musketeers” continued moving westwards and they arrived at the Okongwe waterhole at 03h00 this morning (photos below).
26 Apr 2016. Lions return to Okongwe. After 20 days in the hills east of Tomakas the five male lions (the “Musketeers”) finally returned to the safety of the Okongwe Mountains. During the night they attempted to approach the livestock grazing on the plains around Tomakas village (see map below: red arrow), but a display of fireworks and sound playbacks caused them to move further south (blue arrow) and into the Okongwe Mountains. During this period the “Five Musketeers” did not kill any livestock.
24/25 Apr 2016. Return to Tomakas. The five male lions “Musketeers” moved out of the hills east of Tomakas and there was a risk that they will approach the village. Fireworks and sound playbacks were used during the night to keep them at bay.
23 Apr 2016. Mechanical Problems. The research vehicle developed a problem with its rear axle during the night. The rear drive shaft and side-shaft was removed (photo: below right). The vehicle is now being driven out of the mountainous terrain east of Tomakas using only the front axle.
23 Apr 2016. Tomakas. The five adult males “Musketeers” were located in the mountains to the east of Tomakas. Although the lions are close (< 6 km) to the livestock of Tomakas village they have remained in the mountains and have not killed any livestock.
22 Apr 2016. Small Cubs. The Floodplain Pride was observed on the southern bank of the Hoanib River. The three small cubs waited patiently on a rock outcrop whilst the lionesses hunted in the riverbed. They were acutely aware of the activities and responded when the lionesses captured a springbok (photo: below right), but did not move until they were called.
21 Apr 2016. Hoanib Pride. The Hoanib lioness, Xpl-59 “E=MC^2” was found near the Ganamub River and efforts were made to locate the three sub-adult lions (Xpl-103 & co.) that move between the Hoanib and Mudorib Rivers.
20 Apr 2016. Maintenance. Essential repairs and maintenance of the research vehicle and equipment were done. The mountings of the VHF antenna had become unstable due to the constant movement over the rough terrain and it was stabilised temporarily with an additional support structure.
19 Apr 2016. Jackals. The three small cubs copied the Floodplain lionesses by chasing jackals that tried to scavenge from the giraffe carcass. The “Five Musketeers” are still in the hills to the east of Tomakas.
18 Apr 2016. Giraffe Carcass. The Floodplain Pride remained at the giraffe carcass – feeding at night and resting in a nearby cave during the heat of the day.
17 Apr 2016. Floodplain Cubs. The Floodplain lionesses killed an adult female giraffe on the open gravel plains south of the Hoanib River. The three small cubs of Xpl-55 were also present and enjoyed the abundance of food. They were observed climbing deep into the carcass and feeding on the soft meat. They were also inquisitive of the research vehicle and spent hours inspecting the wheels and various attachments (photo: bottom right).
16 Apr 2016. Koigab to Uniab. The areas between the lower Huab, Koigab and Uniab Rivers were surveyed for lion movements in preparation for the 4 Deserts Race (photos below, see 25 Mar & 15 Apr 2016). The “Five Musketeers and Okongwe lionesses are still in the hills east of Tomakas.
14/15 Apr 2016. Huab. The 4 Deserts Race Series (see 25 Mar 2016) starts on 1 May 2016. Monitoring of the area where the race will take place was continued to ensure that all lions that are currently utilising the area are accounted for. Two young male lions from the Ugab Pride visited the mouth of the Ugab River and then moved along the coast towards the Huab River (photos below).
13 Apr 2016. Amazing Tire. The “Five Musketeers” and the Okongwe lionesses have remained near a spring in the hills to the east of Tomakas. The last of the six Cooper S/T Maxx tires that was sponsored by Cymot and Cooper Tires, SA on 9 Feb 2015 has finally reached the end of its life. This was an amazing tire that broke all previous records kept by the Desert Lion Project. It ran non-stop for 28,409 km over the rough terrain condition and had a total of six punctures (photos: below left). The tire was replaced with a new Cooper STT Pro (photo: below right).
11 Apr 2016. Prospects. The five young adult males (“Musketeers”) have temporarily separated from the Okongwe lionesses and they have moved deeper in the broken terrain east of Tomakas. The situation is not ideal, but there is nothing that can be done at this stage. The movements of the lions will be monitored intensively over the next few days. The Desert Lion Project would like to thank IRDNC and Josef Hafyenanye of the Ministry of Environment & Tourism for their efforts.
10 Apr 2016. Good Habitat - Bad Location. Two years ago the Okongwe Lionesses discovered a productive area east of Tomakas (see map below) that consists of broken terrain with several springs that attract healthy numbers of zebras, giraffes and Oryx. The lionesses have led the “Five Musketeers” to this area and for the past two days they have disappeared in the maze of mountains and canyons with no access roads. This is a problematic situation given the close proximity to Tomakas and the livestock.
9 Apr 2016. Cold War. The Ministry of Environment & Tourism, IRDNC and the Desert Lion Project joined forces to prevent further conflict between the livestock farmers at Tomakas and the lions. The “Five Musketeers” and the Okongwe lionesses remained in the hills to the east of Tomakas (see map below) as the “stand-off” continues.
8 Apr 2016. Sunrise. The Okongwe lionesses and the “Five Musketeers” remained in the hills throughout the night. They probably succeeded in capturing a prey animal, such as a Hartmann’s zebra.
7 Apr 2016. Rain. The Okongwe lionesses were determined to move onto the Tomakas plains and 03h00 this morning they succeeded with the “Five Musketeers” following them. The terrain was difficult to navigate at night and it is unsure if the lions killed any livestock. By 05h00 the lions were chased away from the Tomakas village area and they moved into the hills towards the southeast. Rain showers further complicated the work.
5/6 Apr 2016. Tomakas Problems. The “Five Musketeers” followed the Okongwe lionesses to Tomakas where there are currently large numbers of livestock. With the aid of sound playbacks and fireworks the lions were prevented from approaching the livestock on the plains around the village. The efforts were complicated because an unmarked Okongwe lioness had been in the area the previous night and killed a donkey 2 km south of the village.
3 Apr 2016. Leopard. The “Five Musketeers” and the Okongwe lionesses have returned to the Okongwe waterhole. An adult male leopard killed a giraffe calf near the Hoanib River. This marks the third record of a leopard capturing a giraffe calf in the area.
1 Apr 2016. Kill Frequency. The wildlife numbers around Okongwe have dropped substantially as the area has become dry and many animals moved away in search of better grazing. The five adult male lions (“Musketeers”) are struggling to capture sufficient prey animals to satisfy their daily food requirements. The five lions killed an adult male springbok and consumed the entire carcass in 20 minutes (photos below). On average they need to capture an adult Oryx-sized animal every 1.7 – 1.9 days to meet their needs. It is expected that the “Musketeers” should move away from Okongwe quite soon.
31 Mar 2016. Okongwe Lioness. The “Five Musketeers” remained with the two Okongwe females near the Okongwe waterhole. One of the Okongwe lionesses was immobilised and fitted with a new satellite collar.
30 Mar 2016. Okongwe Females. The “Five Musketeers” was joined by two of the Okongwe lionesses during the night. At least one of the lionesses is in oestrous and she was observed mating with the “Musketeers” (photos below).
29 Mar 2016. Hoanib Pride. The last remaining adult lioness of the Hoanib Pride, Xpl-59 “E=MC^2”, was located in the southern section of the Giribis Plains. She was resting in a cave approximately 150 metres from the remains of her sister (Xpl-47 “Bianca”) that was killed during a Human-Lion Conflict incident in early Nov 2015 (see Week 2 of Nov 2015).
28 Mar 2016. Okongwe. After the incident near Purros on 26/7 Mar 2016 the “Five Musketeers” returned to the area around Okongwe waterhole that they have favoured for the past two months. Despite the mountainous terrain tourists have observed the lions on a regular basis – numerous reports have been received from tour operators and private tourists (photo: below right).
27 Mar 2016. Xhb-37. A surprising and unusual sighting of a marked brown hyaena was made early this morning. Photos below by EWV.
27 Mar 2016. Purros Success. At sunset the five adult male lions (the “Musketeers”) continued moving along the valley towards Purros. Several fires were made in a row at the base of the valley in an effort to block their path. When the lion were approximately 2 km from the fires, a series of fireworks (crackers and two small rockets) were deployed. The lions immediately turned around and moved back towards Okongwe waterhole.
26 Mar 2016. Purros. The “Five Musketeers” have moved far north of Okongwe waterhole and if they continue along the valley they will reach Purros tonight. Efforts are underway to deter them from moving to Purros.
25 Mar 2016. 4 Deserts Race. The world’s leading rough-country endurance footrace, the “4 Deserts Race Series”, takes place in Namibia between 1 and 7 May 2016. Assistance was provided to the Ministry of Environment & Tourism with reviewing the selected route for the race. The Desert Lion Project will also be assisting the organisers to ensure the safety of the athletes during the race.
24 Mar 2016. Ugab to Hunkap. The Huab lioness Xpl-75 “Angela” moved to the Ugab River and she was observed at the border of the Skeleton Coast Park before moving in an easterly direction towards Brandberg. Several members of the Hunkap Pride were located in the lower Hunkap River. Data on group structure were collected and individual records were updated.
23 Mar 2016. Satellite Modem. The BGAN satellite IP modem, used to upload website updates and retrieve positions of satellite-collared lions, has developed technical problems. Attempts are underway to repair the problem, but website updates may be delayed during the next few days.
22 Mar 2016. Ugab Lions. The Messum and Ugab Rivers were surveyed for recent lion movements. Several members of the Ugab Pride were located and important data on the individual records and the composition of the group was collected (photo below).
20 Mar 2016. Lions Club. The Lions International Club of Henties Bay - the largest Club in Southern Africa – have decided to support the conservation of Namibia’s desert-adapted lions. A presentation on the research efforts over the past 15 years was delivered to the Club on 19 Mar 2016 (photos below). The Desert Lion Project would like to thank Nolene & Pieter Erasmus, Magda du Preez and all the Club members for their enthusiastic support.
19 Mar 2016. Uniab Delta. Two young lionesses of the Obab Pride were observed at the Uniab Delta. During the past week their tracks were followed for many kilometres as they moved between the Koigab River, Springbokwasser and the lower Samanab River. It is suspected that the lionesses also venture into the Torra Conservancy. Efforts are underway to secure funding for a satellite collar that will be fitted to one of the lionesses.
17 Mar 2016. Cheetah. The remaining members of the Hoanib Pride were tracked in the mountainous terrain between Mudorib spring and the Hunkap River. A female cheetah with small cubs, stashed in a rocky outcrop, was observed on the gravel plains (photos below).
16 Mar 2016. Gomatum River-2. The five adult males (“Musketeers”) and two adult lionesses were successfully prevented from entering the Gomatum River and preying on livestock. They are currently a few kilometres north of Okongwe waterhole.
14 Mar 2016. Gomatum River. Last night the “Five Musketeers” walked approximately 30 km from just north of Okongwe waterhole, following a dry riverbed along a deep valley, towards the Gomatum River. They stopped 1.5 km from the Gomatum and a nearby cattle post to rest during the heat of the day (see map below). Efforts will be made tonight to deter the five male lions from entering the Gomatum River and prey on the livestock.
13 Mar 2016. Koigab. The Koigab River and the area up to the Uniab River were surveyed and the tracks of two groups of lions were followed. Two lionesses were observed at a spring close to the dune belt.
12 Mar 2016. Ugib Spring. The Uniab, Koigab and Springbok Rivers were surveyed for recent lion activities. Fresh tracks were found at Wolfwasser spring (photo: top right) and several lionesses of Agab and Obab groups were located and observed.
10 Mar 2016. Hoanib. Rainfall patterns during the past few months have resulted in the dispersal of most of the wildlife. There are few animals in the Hoanib River and most of the elephants are favouring the Hoanib Floodplain. The concentration of wildlife around the Okongwe waterhole has kept the “Five Musketeers” in the area.
9 Mar 2016. Okongwe-2. The Okongwe area was searched for the whereabouts of the Okongwe lionesses. The “Five Musketeers” were observed hunting Oryx and Hartmann’s zebras amongst the rocky ridges to the north of the waterhole (photos: below).
8 Mar 2016. Okongwe. During the past months the five adult males “Five Musketeers” have remained in the Okongwe area. After they were deterred from killing livestock at Tomakas village (see 5-7 Feb 2016) the males have moved over a 370 sqr km area around the Okongwe waterhole (see map below) where they have been feeding on Hartmann’s zebras, giraffes and Oryx. On 6 Feb 2016 the Desert Lion website was “hacked”. The malicious code that redirected traffic to alternative websites for financial gain has now been removed. The Desert Lion Project would like to thank Guido Haeger for advice and Luuk Eikelboom for his support.
6 Mar 2016. Fieldwork Continues. The Hoanib River has dried up sufficiently to allow access to parts of the Floodplain and the areas occupied by the Floodplain Pride. All three small cubs of the lioness, Xpl-55, are still alive and they are in good condition.
26 Feb 2016. Huab River. The Huab lioness, Xpl-75 “Angela”, has moved northwards and is currently close to the livestock areas of Slangpos and De Riet. This website might be offline for short period whilst repairing the “hacking” incident.
24 Feb 2016. Website "Hacked". The Desert Lion website has been “hacked”. The problem is receiving attention.
22 Feb 2016. "Musketeers". The five young adult males are still in the Okongwe area, and fortunately they have not moved towards the livestock area to the north.
18 Feb 2016. Fieldwork. Research activities in the field have been stopped in order to attend to a family emergency. The movement updates of satellite-collared lions will continue. The “Five Musketeers” are still in the Okongwe area. Their movements in relation to human settlements and livestock will be monitored closely via satellite.
17 Feb 2016. Floodplain Cubs. The Floodplain lioness, Xpl-55, moved her cubs to the ganite boulders south of the Hoanib River. One of the cubs did not survive, but the remaining three female cubs are healthy and in good condition.
15 Feb 2016. Okongwe / Ganamub. The Okongwe lionesses could not be located due to the mountainous terrain south of the Gomatum River. The “Five Musketeers” have been utilising the area north of Okongwe waterhole (photo: left & top right). The Hoanib lioness Xpl-59 has been favouring the Ganamub River and it is suspected that she gave birth to a litter of cubs. The two Floodplain lionesses were observed in the lower Hoanib River.
13 Feb 2016. Okongwe. The adult male Xpl-81 "Kebbel" responded to disturbance caused by vehicles near Sesfontein and rapidly moved away towards his home range around Orowau. The northern section of the Okongwe area and south of the Gomatum River were search for the Okongwe lionesses. Images from a camera-trap revealed that they visited the Okongwe waterhole three days ago (photos below).
11 Feb 2016. Sesfontein - NEWS Flash. New positions from the satellite collar of Xpl-81 became available that show how he turned around and headed back to Sesfontein. The situation will be investigated.
11 Feb 2016. Sesfontein. During the night the Orowau male, Xpl-81 “Kebbel”, moved past Warmquelle and close to Sesfontein before heading in a southerly direction back towards Orowau. Reports were received that two donkeys were killed in that area. The movement of Xpl-81 will be monitored closely.
10 Feb 2016. Progress. The on-going experiment to deter the five male lions (the “Musketeers”) from approaching settlements and killing livestock was met with another success when the males were displaced from Tomakas and the Gomatum River on 6/7 Feb 2016 (see below). They continued moving past the Okongwe waterhole towards the Hoanib River despite the fact that the two Okongwe lionesses returned to the Gomatum River. The floodwaters along the lower Hoanib River have left large pools of water dammed up against the dunes (photos: below).
9 Feb 2016. Hoanib Mouth. The Hoanib River floodwaters at the beginning of Feb 2016 were supplemented by a second flash flood that rapidly filled the Floodplain and broke through the dunes to the ocean (photos: top row). The Hoanib Floodplain will not be accessible by vehicle for the next few months. The rain and floods have attracted numerous birds of prey to the area, such as the Osprey and African Hawk Eagle (photos: bottom row). The “Five Musketeers” have moved back to the safety of the Okongwe waterhole. Due to the wet conditions, the two Hoanib Floodplain Pride lionesses and the four small cubs could not yet be located.
8 Feb 2016. Okongwe. The Okongwe lionesses and the “Five Musketeers” continued through the mountains and they reached the plains around the Okongwe waterhole early this morning. It is unlikely that they will return to the Tomakas during the next few days.
7 Feb 2016. Tomakas Problem Solved. After two nights of intensive action and monitoring the “Five Musketeers” and two Okongwe lionesses were displaced from Tomakas and the Gomatum River without the loss of any livestock. This was a team effort with Emsie Vervey relaying hourly position coordinates of the lions via satellite SMS to the ground teams throughout the night. The Purros Lion Rangers with Pollen of Okahirongo Elephant Lodge and their vehicle (photos: bottom left & middle) were key to the success.
6 Feb 2016. "Musketeers" vs Okongwe Lionesses. The “Five Musketeers” and the Okongwe lionesses were successfully prevented from approaching Tomakas Village (approximately 150 head of cattle) and a second settlement 10km further west along the Gomatum River (+- 250 cattle and donkeys). On seven occasions between 21h00 and 08h30 this morning, whenever the lions descended from the safety of the mountains, they were disturbed with loud noises, whistles, fireworks and bright lights. This was a collaborative effort with help from Wilderness Safaris, Okahirongo Elephant Lodge and the Purros Conservancy (including the three Lion Rangers – Colin Albertus & Kotie). Over the years the Okongwe lionesses have learnt to live close to people and livestock. They are skittish and avoid people and vehicles. Male lions that have joined them in the past did not have those skills and were shot. Well known examples are Xpl-56 (14 -18 Nov 2010), Xpl-73 “Rosh” (3 July 2014) and the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68 – 27/28 Aug 2014). Despite the success of last night, the “Five Musketeers” remain at risk.
5 Feb 2016. "Musketeers" at Tomakas. During the night the “Five Musketeers” presumably followed the Okongwe lionesses as they moved 20 km over the mountains to Tomakas. At 04hh00 they were on the plains near the village where they presumably killed livestock. At sunrise they moved back to the safety of the mountains. Efforts are underway to deter them from approaching the village and livestock again tonight.
1 Feb 2016. Land Cruiser Repaired. The Land Cruiser was finally fully repaired by Alfons Motors in Swakopmund. The front differential, diff-lock system and the rear suspension were repaired with assistance from Off-Road Centre. The “Five Musketeers” are still in the southern section of the Okongwe area (map: below right).
Xpl-103 “Tina” and her two siblings of the Hoanib Pride have been observed several times during the past week near the main Mudorib spring (photos below by Lianne). They are in good condition and they have become more relaxed around vehicles.
29 Jan 2016. "Muketeers Mating". The “Five Musketeers” have spent the past week in the Okongwe area where they have encountered the last two remaining lionesses of the Okongwe Pride (previously known as the “70s Lionesses). Both lionesses are in oestrous they are currently and mating with the five males (photos by Lianne).
28 Jan 2016. Land Cruiser. After a brief period in the field the Land Cruiser was returned for further repairs.
20 Jan 2016. Land Cruiser. The field vehicle is still being repaired in Walvis Bay. It is expected to be ready for fieldwork within in the next two days.
11 Jan 2016. Four Floodplain Cubs. Xpl-55 was observed on the Hoanib Floodplain with her four small cubs (photos below by Lianne). The cubs are six weeks old.
09 Jan 2016. Floodplain Cubs. The two Floodplain lionesses killed an Oryx along the southern edge of the Hoanib Floodplain. Xpl-55 stashed her four cubs in a thicket nearby. One of the small cubs was observed and identified as a female. Photo below courtesy of Hoanib Camp.
08 Jan 2016. Floodplain Cubs. The lioness Xpl-55 was observed on the southern edge of the floodplain with four small cubs.
05 Jan 2016. Vehicle Repairs. The Land Cruiser was delivered to Indongo Toyota in Walvis Bay for a major service and repairs. Fieldwork is expected to continue by mid Jan 2016.
2015. Highlights of 2015
|January - The month was dominated by the biggest flash flood that the Hoanib River has seen for almost a decade.||February - The Orowau males (Xpl-81 “Kebbel” & Xpl-87) were involved in a number of incidents of Human-Lion conflict.|
|March - New satellite collars were fitted to all five of the “Musketeers”.||April - The Obab lionesses established themselves at the Uniab Delta and were observed regularly along the coast.|
|May - The “Five Musketeers” visited the dunes and coastal habitat several times before they dispersed from their natal pride.||June - During an inexplicable event Xpl-75 “Angela” of the Huab Pride lost her satellite collar. She was eventually located and a new collar was fitted.|
|July - The “Vanishing Kings” documentary was premiered in Windhoek, Swakopmund and during a “Road Show” in the Kunene Region.||August - The Ugab Pride moved to the mouth of the Ugab River for the first time in more that twenty years.|
|September - The “Five Musketeers” connected and mated with both lionesses of the Hoanib Pride and they discovered the Hunkap spring.||October - A large influx of cattle in the upper Hoanib area resulted in conflict. The “Five Musketeers” killed a cow on the Giribis Plain.|
|November - The Human-Lion conflict incidents of October continued and resulted in the death of Xpl-47 “Bianca” of the Hoanib Pride.||December - The Hoanib Floodplain lioness (Xpl-55) gave birth to a litter of cubs close to Auses spring.|
3 Jan 2016. Uniab Delta. The Obab Lionesses arrived at the Uniab Delta last night. The Ministry of Environment & Tourism and Namibia Wildlife Resorts were informed of the development.
Visitor Map. Summary of visitors to the Desert Lion website since 15 Jan 2013.