Current NEWS

July 2015

Lion Movements - go to Current Locations. OR Huab Pride / Hunkap Pride / Obab Lionesses / Hoanib Pride

2 Jul 2015. Huab Lions. Xpl-75 “Angela” moved into the Huab River between De Riet and Slangpos (see map below). Their movements will be monitored since the area is also utilised by livestock. In the Hoanib River Xpl-47 “Bianca” moved away, but Xpl-81 “Kebbel” returned to Elephant Song at 01h00 this morning.


1 Jul 2015. Elephant Song 2. The lions killed at least four head of cattle near Elelphant Song during the past 2 days. With the help from several supporters, including Izak Smit, excessive noise & disturbance was caused at night around Elephant Song and near the cattle boma. This caused the lions to move away. Xpl-81 “Kebbel” left the area early yesterday morning and the Hoanib Pride (Xpl-47 “Bianca”) moved to Ganamub Poort at 05h00 this morning. Plans for the Premiere of the film “Vanishing Kings – Lions of the Namib” has been completed. More information will shortly be available on social media.

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).

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.

30 Apr 2015. Repeat "Offender". During the past two months a camera-trap on the Hoanib Floodplain has repeatedly been removed from its mounting (where it has been situated for 7 years). On each occasion (n = 4) the camera was retrieved <100m from the mounting location. It was suspected that an individual cheetah took a dislike in the camera and repeatedly removed it, but the camera never photographed the culprit. On 29 Mar 20125 the camera was again returned to its original mounting and covered with a potent chilly mixture in an attempt to deter the culprit. On 15 Apr 2015 the camera was once again removed, but this time three images were recorded (see below). The culprit appears to be an African wildcat.

29 Apr 2015. Huab to Mudorib. The Koigab, Uniab, Samanab, Hunkap and Mudorib Rivers were scanned for signs of recent lion activities and the presence of radio-collared lions. A total of 14,532 photos were downloaded from 5 different camera-traps (see images below).

28 Apr 2015. Huab Flood. An effort was made to unravel the mystery of the Huab lioness (Xpl-75 “Angela”) whose satellite collar was found on 13 Apr 2015 (see below). Unfortunately the rains and flooding of the Huab River that reached the ocean (photo: top) covered all tracks and signs associated with the event. The Desert Lion Project will return to the area for a longer and more in-depth investigation. The Obab lionesses were located at the Uniab Delta (photos: bottom left & right) where they killed an adult Oryx.

27 Apr 2015. Land Cruiser. Repairs and a major service of the Land Cruiser were completed in Swakopmund. The Project would like to thank Koos of Swakop Body Works and Albie of Cross Roads Services Station for their efforts and patience to take the vehicle through a road-worthy test. Fieldwork will now continue.

13 Apr 2015. Xpl-75 Mystery. The movement patterns of the Huab lioness (Xpl-75 “Angela”), based on the location data transmitted by her satellite collar, have been somewhat irregular for the past few weeks. And when the collar stopped moving all together, Peter Sander agreed to investigate the possible cause. After negotiating flooding rivers (photo: left), the satellite collar was located under a Mopane tree in a wash south of the Huab River. There is concern that Xpl-75 may have died and that the radio collar was moved (perhaps by hyaenas). Radio collars have been fitted to lions for >25 years and is unlikely that Xpl-75 removed the collar. Peter & Mielies Sander are thanked for their efforts.

9 Apr 2015. Email Problems. Several important mailboxes, including “Contact” & “Peter” of the Desert Lion domain are currently not working. We are attending to the problems.

5 Apr 2015. Time-Out. All fieldwork has been stopped for the next 20 days. During this period the Desert Lion Project will be attending to data analysis, editing, writing of research reports and fund raising. The daily movement updates of the Hunkap Pride, Huab Pride & the Obab Lionesses will continue. News updates will be done once a week until active fieldwork resumes.

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4 Apr 2015. Terrace Bay Lions. A total of 80 hours were spent observing the Obab Lionesses at the Uniab Delta with the objective to identify potential Human Wildlife Conflict problems that might occur along the main road to Terrace Bay. Even though the majority of tourists and fishermen that visit the Skeleton Coast Park are unaware that lions occur in the area, the Obab Lionesses are skittish & suspicious of people and move away when vehicles approach. The Ministry of Environment & Tourism and Namibia Wildlife Resort are currently informing all visitors of the lions.

3 Apr 2015. Young Lionesses. The Obab Lionesses remained in the area of the Uniab Delta. They were observed for another 24-hour period to collect more information on their response to vehicles and people along the main road to Terrace Bay. The three young females were observed playing extensively during the early morning hours.

2 Apr 2015. Annoying Crows. The Obab Lionesses spent the day in the sun on the gravel plains near the mouth of the Uniab River guarding their ostrich carcasses against scores of crows. Approximately 30 Pied crows and a few Black crows taunted and frustrated the lions all day long.

1 Apr 2015. Double Kill. At approximately 03h00 the Obab Lionesses killed two adult ostriches during a single hunt on the gravel plains near the mouth of the Uniab River. Discussions were held with Namibia Wildlife Resorts at Terrace Bay about the lions and the need to inform visitors to the Park.

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.

Visitor Map. Summary of visitors to the Desert Lion website since 15 Jan 2013.

Locations of Site Visitors