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.
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.
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 email@example.com. 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.
Visitor Map. Summary of visitors to the Desert Lion website since 15 Jan 2013.