Week 4: 24 - 30 November 2015
|During the past week the “Five Musketeers” have remained together. They have fortunately moved away from the Ganamub and Elephant Song areas where more livestock have moved in. The “Musketeers” spent time in the mountains around the Mudorib spring and then moved to the Hunkap River where they encountered and interacted with the Hunkap Pride. The older lionesses (i.e. Xpl-53 “Charlotte”) did not tolerate the young males and they returned to the Mudorib River.|
|The Floodplain lioness Xpl-55 is believed to have given birth near Auses spring. Her movements are being monitored closely with the hopes of observing the cubs when they become mobile and the lioness decides to lead them out of their lair. The second lioness has been moving around the lower Hoanib River, but she returned regularly to her sister and the cubs.|
|Most of the week was spent analysing data and finalising the annual research report. The report will contain sections on wildlife numbers in the lower Hoanib River, flooding frequencies of the major ephemeral rivers during 2015, camera-trap data, Cape fox records, caracal movements, cheetah movements, brown hyaena demography & lion ecology.|
|An adult male leopard was located in the Hoanib River after he was recorded on several camera-traps during the past two years. The leopard was immobilised and fitted with a radio collar.|
Week 3: 17 - 23 November 2015
|After the death of Xpl-47 “Bianca” an extensive search effort was launched to locate the rest of the Hoanib Pride. Sadly the young lioness Xpl-103 “Tina” (photo: left) that was radio-collared on 6 Nov 2015 and her two siblings could not be found. It is suspected that the three sub-adult lions may have been shot or poisoned at the same time as Xpl-47 and that the radio collar of Xpl-103 “Tina” was destroyed. Notwithstanding, the search for Xpl-103 will continue.|
|Xpl-59 “E=MC^2”. After several days and nights of searching the 2,500 km^2 area of their home range, the last remaining adult female of the Hoanib Pride (Xpl-59) was located. She was immobilised and fitted with a new satellite collar. The movements of Xpl-59 will be monitored and efforts will be made to prevent further conflict with the local livestock owners.|
|The “Five Musketeers” flirted with danger on several occasions as they moved closer to livestock and human settlement, but they finally reconnected in the Mudorib River during the week and they have remained together. The five young adult males captured an adult female giraffe in the Mudorib River just north of the Hunkap road (photo: right). They remain a valuable tourism attraction and are observed regularly (photo: below).|
|During the past week the “Five Musketeers” were deterred from approaching the large numbers of cattle that started moving into the Hoanib River at Elephant Song. The use of fireworks has produced good results and they have vacated the danger area after each event.|
|A substantial amount of time was spent analysing data and writing an annual research report. A new initiative by Wilderness Safaris where systematic data are collected during “game drives” has produced valuable data. Over a 14-month period data were collected during 1657 “game drives” with 6261 guests. A total of 24,943 animals from 26 different species were recorded. The data were corrected for sampling bias and the frequency of sightings for the five major species are presented here (graph: right).|
|An analysis of the movement patterns of the Obab Lionesses (Xpl-45 “Lovechild”) indicate that they visit the Uniab Delta at regular intervals (graph: right). On average they remain at the Uniab Delta for 20 days (range: 7 – 60 days.) When at the Uniab Delta they move an average of 4.9 km/day compared to 8.4 km/day when they move inland.|
|Home range analysis of Xpl-100 - Orowau area||Home ranges of Xpl-94 & Xpl-65 - Etendeka area||Home range of Xpl-98 - Ugab River|
|Two cheetahs (one male & one female) were fitted with satellite radio collars in the lower Hoanib River. The adult male moved over an area of 2,119 km^2 before he died after attempting to capture an Oryx (map: right). The adult female cheetah favoured the eastern section of the Hoanib Floodplain and moved over an area of 278 km^2 (map: far right).|
|Off-road driving and corrugated tracks are some of the problems associated with the growth of tourism in the Hoanib River area. An admirable initiative was taken by Gert Tsabeb, Johan Potgieter and Clement Lawrence of Wilderness Safaris to manage the tracks. They closed unnecessary roads and swept off-road driving tracks (photos: left & right).|
Week 3: 23 November 2015. This update will be posted later today.
Week 2: 8 - 16 November 2015
|Xpl-47 “Bianca” fell victim to the on-going conflict between people and wildlife. At the age of 12 years, Xpl-47 was killed in the upper Obias River after attacking livestock that moved into the hills to the south of the Giribis plains. The Desert Lion Project feels partly responsible for this development because the promotion and development of tourism in the Hoanib River have resulted in the lions becoming habituated to vehicles. Xpl-47 has lived in the Hoanib area and her movements were monitored with satellite radio collars for the past seven years.|
|Up until this year Xpl-47 survived several incidents of human-lion conflict by being skittish, but the recent developments in tourism made her vulnerable to vehicles that carry rifles instead of cameras. The large numbers of livestock that roam freely at night in the upper Obias, Giribis, Ganamub & Elephant Song areas are attracting lions such as the rest of the Hoanib Pride (1 Ad Female “Xpl-59” & three sub-adults) and the “Five Musketeers”.|
|The five young adult males (the “Musketeers”) have been moving long distances. Three of the “Musketeers” (Xpl-89 “Harry”, Xpl-91 “Ben” & Xpl-93 “Tullamore” returned to the Floodplain, but their mothers avoided them and moved to the coast. All five males have been close to the livestock areas (see above) on several occasions, but each time they were deterred using fireworks and prevented from killing livestock.|
|The other two “Musketeers” (Xpl-90 “Polla” & Xpl-92 “Adolf”) have been favouring the danger areas at Elephant Song and the upper Ganamub & Obias Rivers. Their movements are monitored closely and efforts are continuously made to prevent conflict. Notwithstanding, the number of livestock in the area is a big attraction to the lions and, unless the situation changes, it is likely that the lions could be shot or poisoned. The Desert Lion Project will continue with the attempts to prevent livestock losses.|
|For the past three weeks the two Floodplain lionesses (Xpl-55 & Xpl-69) have remained in the western section of the Hoanib Floodplain where they have been feeding on Oryx and ostriches. But, when three of their sons (the “Musketeers”, see above) moved onto the Floodplain, they crossed over the dune-belt to Oasis spring and spent several days along the coastal habitat.|
Week 1: 1 - 7 November 2015
|A protocol to respond to incidents of human-lion conflict was developed further and two short training sessions on the safe use of fireworks and other options were held in the Hoanib River. Rob Ramey & Laura Brown of Desert Elephant Conservation provided valuable information and training on the Hoanib / Hoaruseb elephant sub-population (photo: 2nd right).|
|Following their victorious clash with the adult male (Xpl-81 “Kebbel”) on 26 Oct 2015 the “Five Musketeers" separated. Xpl-90 “Polla” followed the lioness Xpl-47 “Bianca” to the upper section of the Ganamub River before meeting up with Xpl-92 “Adolf” near Mudorib spring (photo: 1st right). Xpl-92 “Adolf” killed a Hartmann’s zebra high up on a steep mountain slope in the upper Mudorib River (photo: 2nd right). He was first joined by the lioness Xpl-59 “E=MC^2” and then by Xpl-90 “Polla”.|
|The remaining three “Musketeers” (Xpl-89 “Harry”, Xpl-91 “Ben” & Xpl-93 “Tullamore”) moved to Hunkap spring and then returned to the Hoanib Floodplain (photo: below right). The three males were observed hunting giraffes on several occasions (photos: right & below) and they killed an Oryx near the Hoanib River. They were observed drinking at the “President’s Waterhole” before moving to the Floodplain. *Move mouse over photo below*|
|The Okongwe area and the eastern section of the Hoanib River were searched for signs of the Okongwe Pride and the three sub-adult lions of the Hoanib Pride. A camera-trap at Okongwe waterhole provided recent images of the Okongwe Pride (photos: left & right), but they could not be located.|
|The two Floodplain lionesses (Xpl-55 & Xpl-69) were observed east of Auses spring. The swollen milk glands of Xpl-55 (photo: right) suggest that she is heavily pregnant. Xpl-55 is expected to give birth during the next 1 - 2 weeks. This is an unexpected development since there are no adult males in the near vicinity. However, three months ago when the two lionesses were in oestrous they separated and Xpl-55 could not be located on several occasions. It is possible that she moved south and found a male in the Hunkap or Obab area.|
|A group of three cheetahs (possibly an adult female with two sub-adults) were observed on the Ganias plains. An effort was made to fit a satellite collar to one of the cheetahs, but they were extremely skittish. Despite a careful approach after sunset, the cheetahs ran from the research vehicle at a distance of 540 metres. The adult female cheetah (Xaj-2) is expected to have small cubs (see 20 Oct 2015) and she has favoured the same area for the past two weeks.|
|The three sub-adult lions of the Hoanib Pride separated from their mothers (Xpl-47 “Bianca” & Xpl-59 “E=MC^2”) four months ago when the lionesses mated with the “Five Musketeers”. After an extensive search effort over the past two months, the three lions (1 male & 2 females) were eventually located south of the Hoanib River near the Obias junction. One of the females was immobilised and fitted with a VHF radio collar.|
31 Oct 2015. "Musketeers". The latest oestrous cycle of the Hoanib lioness Xpl-47 “Bianca” has stimulated conflict between the five males and they have separated. Xpl-90 “Polla” and Xpl-92 “Adolf” moved northwards towards the Hoanib River and they were observed hunting giraffes.
30 Oct 2015. Website Updates. As from November 2015 updates to the website will be done weekly. This reduction in the frequency of website updates has become necessary due to the high satellite costs and the workload, and it will be tested for a few months. The quantity and quality of information will not be reduced, but it will be collated, summarised and presented on a weekly bases instead. Notwithstanding, important developments and/or observations and the movements of satellite-collared lions will still be covered by daily updates. The Hoanib lioness (Xpl-59 “E=MC^2”) was located in the mountainous terrain of the upper Mudorib area (photos below). The “Five Musketeers” are still with the oestrous lioness (Xpl-47 “Bianca”).
29 Oct 2015. Hoanib Lionesses. After the interaction and conflict between the “Five Musketeers” and Xpl-81 “Kebbel” one of the Hoanib lionesses (Xpl-59) moved into the mountains towards Mudorib spring. She was followed with the hope of locating the three sub-adult lions of the Hoanib Pride, but the terrain proved too difficult.
28 Oct 2015. Support. Xpl-81 “Kebbel” returned to the Orowau area whilst the “Five Musketeers” joined-up and remained in the Hoanib River with Xpl-47 “Bianca”. The Desert Lion Project would like to acknowledge donations from TOSCO (2 satellite collars & batteries for camera-traps / other equipment), the Land Cruiser Club of SA (Iridium satellite phone & vehicle supplies), NAMSOV (fuel expenses for 2015/6), Off Road Centre & Ms. Ingrid Schumann (satellite collars), as well as the on-going support from Simon van Zyl, Jan Arnold, Wilderness Safaris & Adolf Huester. A collection of fireworks and flares was purchased to assist with the management of human-lion conflict situations. The fireworks were tested (photos: below right) and a method was developed to propel a firecracker attached to an arrow so that it explodes overhead (photo: below 2nd from left). TOSCO released a video-clip on their partnership with the Project.
27 Oct 2015. Partings. During the night the two Hoanib lionesses separated. Xpl-47 “Bianca” is in oestrous and remained near the Ganamub Gorge where she is mating with three of the “Musketeers” (Xpl-90, Xpl-91 & Xpl-92). Xpl-59 “EMC^2” and the other two “Musketeers” (Xpl-89 & Xpl-93) moved into the mountains south of the Obias Junction. The adult male Xpl-81 “Kebbel” also vacated the area and headed back to his normal home range around Orowau spring.
25/26 Oct 2015. Male Lion Conflict. The “Five Musketeers” had their first encounter with an adult male lion (Xpl-81 “Kebbel”- photo: 2nd row left) at Elephant Song. When the five sub-adult males became aware of Xpl-81, they approached him and an altercation enfolded. Data collected from their respective satellite collars indicate that the lions moved extensively amongst the thick vegetation and mountains surrounding the Hoanib River just west of Elephant Song as they battled for dominance. The “Five Musketeers” were victorious. The lioness Xpl-47 “Bianca” came into oestrous, probably stimulated by all the social commotions, and three of the “Musketeers” are currently mating with her. During the night Xpl-81 “Kebbel” made another attempt to displace the “Five Musketeers” from the mating lioness, but they were up to the challenge.
24 Oct 2015. Lion Tourism. During the past week the “Five Musketeers” were deterred from approaching and killing livestock on the Giribis Plain and near the Ganamub village. An effort was made to ensure that the lions do not associate the disturbances with vehicles used for tourism. Tourists have subsequently viewed the “Five Musketeers” on several occasions (photo below). It would appear that the management actions, taken to scare the lions away from livestock and certain conflict with the local communities, have not compromised the tourism value of the lions.
23 Oct 2015. Ganamub River. The “Five Musketeers” moved northwards along the Ganamub River to within 7 km of the Ganamub village where there are large numbers of livestock. A “blockade” was set up between the lions and the village at a narrow section where the river runs through the mountains. Five separate fires were made and they were kept burning all night. At 23h15 the lions turned around and headed back to the Hoanib River. Wilderness Safaris and Desert Elephant Conservation are thanked for their efforts (photos by E Verwey).
22 Oct 2015. Whales. A pod of whales were spotted at the mouth of the Hoanib River. They where estimated to be 2-3 km offshore and were swimming in a southerly direction.
21 Oct 2015. Ganamub. A build-up of clouds inland and a few drops of rain on the Hoanib Floodplain might be promises of early rain for the region. This will relieve the current grazing pressures faced by the livestock owners and their cattle. The “Five Musketeers” moved northwards along the Ganamub River taking them closer to the conflict area.
20 Oct 2015. Cheetah Xaj-2. The “Five Musketeers” did not return to the livestock on the Giribis Plain and they remained in the Hoanib River. However, they moved to the Ganamub Gorge where they are still in close proximity to human settlements and livestock. Efforts are underway to establish a standard protocol to respond to future conflict situations. The adult female cheetah (Xaj-2) was located in the Hoanib River. She appears to be lactating (photo: left), but the cubs must be small and not yet mobile.
19 Oct 2015. Hoanib River. After the lions vacated the area the cattle moved further west into the hills of southern Okongwe and the herders collected the remains of the cow that was killed (photos below). The “Five Musketeers” continued moving southwards and reached the Hoanib River by late morning.
18 Oct 2015. Fireworks. The participation of the Ministry of Environment & Tourism, Wilderness Safaris & Okahirongo Elephant Lodge with four additional vehicles (photo: top) was key to preventing further stock losses. It was a daunting task with large herds of cattle scattered between the hills. During the night the five male lions made seven attempts to approach and capture livestock, but each time they were prevented from doing so with firework displays that disrupted their activities and forced them to return to the safety of the hills. At 06h00 they finally gave up and headed southwards towards the Hoanib River (photo: bottom). It is anticipated that this success will be short-lived. Due to a lack of food for the numbers of cattle around their normal settlements, the owners are forced to utilise the last available grazing in an area that has been allocated for wildlife & tourism. This area falls within the respective home ranges of four different lion prides (Okongwe, Hoanib, Floodplain & Orowau).
17 Oct 2015. Giribis Plain. The “Five Musketeers” fled from the remains of a cow when three herders on donkeys approached the carcass (photos: top row). They ran into the hills and remained there for the day. The Ministry of Environment & Tourism, Wilderness Safaris & Okahirongo Elephant Lodge arrived to assist with the problem. At sunset the lions moved back to the edge of the plain and lay watching the cattle (photos: bottom row). As soon as it was dark the lions stalked towards the cattle. Fireworks and flares were used throughout the night to deter the lions. They moved deeper into the hills, but are still within easy reach of the cattle.
16 Oct 2015. NEWS FLASH. During the night the “Five Musketeers & the two Hoanib females moved further east where they encountered large numbers (+- 1000) of cattle grazing on the open plains at the southern point of the Giribis Plain. The wise lionesses vacated the area, but the “Musketeers” killed at least one cow. It is a precarious situation with hundreds of cattle grazing all around the lions and people nearby. The Ministry of Environment & Tourism and the Sesfontein Conservancy were informed and we are waiting for a decision on the best course of action.
16 Oct 2015. Okongwe South. The “Five Musketeers” and the two Hoanib lionesses moved further north into the mountainous terrain south of Okongwe. Efforts are also underway to locate the Okongwe Pride in order to fit a new satellite collar to one of the lionesses.
15 Oct 2015. Sawarugab. The Hoanib lionesses & the “Five Musketeers” moved northwards for 16 km along the Sawarugab River (photo: top). A camera-trap mounted at the remains of the two giraffe carcasses (photos: bottom two rows) captured images of the “Musketeers” and other scavengers utilising the leftovers.
14 Oct 2015. Missing Hoanib Lions. A camera-trap mounted at a spring in the upper Mudorib River captured recent images of the three missing sub-adult lions of the Hoanib Pride. The three lions are in good condition. Although the area is not accessible by vehicle, efforts will continue to locate the lions in order to fit a radio collar to one of the lionesses.
13 Oct 2015. Cheetah Dead. The adult male cheetah Xaj-1 “Khan” was found dead just north of the Hoanib River at the “President’s Waterhole”. The cheetah was last observed yesterday morning and appeared to be healthy. An autopsy was preformed and revealed striking evidence of a large puncture wound into his left chest cavity and stomach (photo: top right). It is suspected that the mortal wound was made by the horn of an Oryx.
12 Oct 2015. Zebra. The “Five Musketeers” and the two Hoanib lionesses moved 5 km westwards over the mountains and killed an adult male Hartmann’s zebra along a drainage line that feeds into the Mudorib River (photos below).
11 Oct 2015. Movement Updates.
10 Oct 2015. Hunkap/Mudorib. Images were downloaded from several camera-traps in the Hunkap/Mudorib area as the search for the missing sub-adult lions of the Hoanib Pride continues.
9 Oct 2015. Maintenance. The rough and rocky terrain of the Mudorib/Hunkap area has taken its toll on the research vehicle and tires. Several brackets and mountings inside the cab of the Land Cruiser broke and the rotating antenna system needed attention.
8 Oct 2015. Mudorib Spring. The search for the missing sub-adult lions of the Hoanib Pride has not produced any results. The Hoanib lionesses and the “Five Musketeers” have left the giraffe carcasses and moved up-river to the Mudorib spring. They are well fed and spend most of the time sleeping.
7 Oct 2015. Mudorib Feast. The two Hoanib lionesses (Xpl-47 & Xpl-59) joined the “Five Musketeers” at their double giraffe kill in the Mudorib River. The lions have now been feeding on the giraffe carcasses for six days. They have consumed most of the edible meat with only skin and bones remaining.
6 Oct 2015. Cheetah "Xaj-1". The adult male cheetah Xaj-1 “Khan” was located south of the Hoanib River near Amp’s Poort. The cheetah had not eaten recently and appeared weak. He will be kept under observation for most of the day.
5 Oct 2015. Missing Hoanib Lions. Photos from several camera-traps around the Hoanib and Mudorib Rivers were scanned to help search for the three missing sub-adult lions of the Hoanib Pride. The adult lionesses (Xpl-47 & Xpl-59) were located in the lower Mudorib River, but there is no sign of the young lions.
4 Oct 2015. Giraffe Hunt. A complete spoor reconstruction of the giraffe hunt where the “Five Musketeers” captured two adult giraffes was done (see map top left). The pale blue lines show the stalking roles and final positions (blue numbers) of the five male lions before they initiated the chase. Three males circled around to the left whilst two males (Nos. 4 & 5) waited in an ambush position at the base of a narrow gorge (white square). When the lion on the far left (No. 1) initiated the chase, the giraffes (red crosses) ran towards the gorge. Several giraffes escaped to the left of the gorge, but two individuals ran into the trap with three lions hot on their heels. The photo (top right) provides a schematic layout of the actions inside the narrow gorge where the two giraffes were subdued. The black and white photo insert of Xpl-10 attacking a giraffe from an ambush position serves only as an example of how the males may have captured the giraffes. However, it is suspected that the second giraffe was tripped up by the commotions of the lions bringing down the first giraffe and lost its footing over the protruding rocks.
3 Oct 2015. "Musketeers". The adult male lion Xpl-81 “Kebbel” turned around after his encounter with the Hoanib lionesses (see 30 Sep 2015) and then retraced his steps via the Elephant Song back to his normal home range in the Orowau area. The “Five Musketeers” have been feeding continuously on their giraffe kills. They first consumed the carcass of the adult female giraffe until there was only skin and bones left. During the night they started feeding on the male carcass (photos: below).
2 Oct 2015. Two Giraffes. The “Five Musketeers” captured two young adult giraffes (a male & a female) during a cooperative hunt in the Mudorib River. A preliminary spoor reconstruction of the hunt revealed that the five males cleverly coordinated their stalking roles and used the terrain to their advantage. All possible escape routes for the giraffes were blocked off and they became trapped in a narrow gulley. Multiple kills during a single hunt are rare. During this and other Namibian studies, multiple kills have been observed on species like springbok, zebra, wildebeest & buffalo, but never before on giraffe.
1 Oct 2015. Crows. The adult male Xpl-81 “Kebbel” met up with the Hoanib lionesses (Xpl-47 & Xpl-59) and they moved deeper into the mountains (see Hoanib Pride). The “Five Musketeers” presumably killed another giraffe in the Mudorib River. In the meantime the two Floodplain lionesses captured an Oryx on the Hoanib Floodplain. Xpl-69 expended a lot of energy chasing Pied Crows from the carcass (photos: below right).
30 Sep 2015. "Kebbel". Xpl-81 “Kebbel” moved > 60 km during the past two days - from Orowau spring to Elephant Song and then westwards along the Hoanib River to the Obias junction (see map below). He is currently close to the Hoanib lionesses (Xpl-47), and the “Five Musketeers” are 12 km further south at the Mudorib springs (photo: bottom left). A meeting and an interaction between the adult male (Xpl-81) and the five young “Musketeers” seem inevitable.
29 Sep 2015. Kuarokhaob. The “Five Musketeers” have now ventured onto the Kuarokhaob Plains in search of prey. The Hunkap Pride (Xpl-53 “Charlotte”) could not be located, but during the night the “Musketeers” moved to within 15 km of the Orowau lionesses (Xpl-100 & co.).
28 Sep 2015. Hunkap Territory. The “Five Musketeers” are exploring and hunting deep inside the home range of the Hunkap Pride. They have not yet encountered any of the resident lions.
27 Sep 2015. Tourism Value. At the young age of 3.7 years the “Five Musketeers” have become a formidable male coalition. They are prolific hunters and they have already restored some balance to the social dynamics of the population by mating with two lionesses from the Hoanib Pride. In addition, the five males are of great value to tourism. They are habituated to tourist vehicles and they regularly provide for superb sightings of desert-adapted lions (photos: below).
26 Sep 2015. Hunkap Spring. The Hoanib lionesses moved into the mountains between the Mudorib and Hoanib Rivers and could not be located. The “Five Musketeers” were located at Hunkap spring. Although lions regularly visit and drink at Hunkap spring, this is only the fouth time in 18 years that lions were observed at the base of the Hunkap spring. Heiko & Anja Denker are currently visiting the Project and they were fortunate to see the “Musketeers” at Hunkap (photo: bottom). Heiko runs an independent Face Book page that regularly features aspects of the Desert Lion Project.
25 Sep 2015. Hoanib Lionesses. The two Hoanib lionesses (Xpl-47 & Xpl-59) moved further south towards the Hoanib River. They are being followed with the hopes of finding their three grown cubs. The “Five Musketeers” are still at Hunkap spring.
24 Sep 2015. Hunkap Explorations. The Hoanib lionesses (Xpl-47 & Xpl-59) left the “Five Musketeers” behind and returned to the Mudorib River. The five young males continued exploring the area around Hunkap spring.
23 Sep 2015. Cheetah "Xaj-1". The adult male cheetah, Xaj-1, was located south of the Hoanib River. The cheetah was observed hunting a small herd of springboks and he is in good condition. The “Five Musketeers” moved further south and east of Hunkap spring.
22 Sep 2015. Hunkap South. The “Musketeers” and two the Hoanib lionesses moved further south and crossed the Hunkap River. The lions have been successful in catching prey every night during past three days.
21 Sep 2015. Hunkap. The two Hoanib lionesses and the “Five Musketeers” reached Hunkap spring during the night. The lionesses are past their oestrous cycles and during the past few weeks they have formed a close bond with “Musketeers”. The group was observed hunting actively into the night. The “Five Musketeers” have become formidable hunters. Not only do they lead most of the hunts, mainly through the eagerness of Xpl-92 “Adolf”, but they all participate alongside the lionesses.
20 Sep 2015. Mudorib Spring. The camera-traps mounted along the Mudorib River and near the main Mudorib spring did not contain any photos of lions. Fresh tacks of several sub-adult lions were found along the dry riverbed. It is possible that these are the tracks of the three young lions of the Hoanib Pride.
19 Sep 2015. Mudorib Mountains. The Hoanib lionesses have led the “Five Musketeers” deep into the mountains south of the main Mudorib spring. The search for the cubs of Xpl-47 & Xpl-59 continues.
18 Sep 2015. Hoanib Pride. The tracks of the three young lions of the Hoanib Pride (cubs of Xpl-47 & Xpl-59) were located near the Obias River. An unsuccessful attempt was made last night to find the lions and fit a radio collar. In the mean time the Hoanib lionesses and the “Five Musketeers” moved into an inaccessible area 10km north of Hunkap spring.
17 Sep 2015. Xpl-47 Mating. Behavioural observations have confirmed that Xpl-47 “Bianca” is in oestrous and she was seen mating with two of the “Musketeers” (Xpl-89 & Xpl-93). This development may result in the dispersal of the cubs of Xpl-47 & Xpl-59. They are now 22 months old and efforts will be made to locate them and fit a radio collar to one of the females in order to keep track of their movements.
16 Sep 2015. Xpl-47 . The “Five Musketeers” and the two Hoanib lionesses (Xpl-47 & Xpl-59) were observed in the mountains west of the Mudorib River. The behaviour of Xpl-47 “Bianca” suggests that she might be coming into oestrous and could mate with the “Musketeers”.
15 Sep 2015. Hoanib Females. The “Five Musketeers” were observed with the two Hoanib Pride lionesses (Xpl-47 & Xpl-59). The lionesses do not appear to be in oestrous. The lions were moving into mountainous terrain to the south west of the Mudorib River.
14 Sep 2015. Ostriches. Unusual behaviour was observed amongst a group of eight ostriches south of the Hoanib River (photos below). Aggression between the adult males suggests that the behaviour is possibly related to courtship rituals. The Obab Lionesses are heading back towards the Uniab River. It is expected that they might return to the Uniab Delta during the next two days.
13 Sep 2015. Floodplain Females. Xpl-93 “Tullamore” walked >23 km during the night and met up with the rest of the “Musketeers” in the Hoanib River approximately 5 km East of the Mudorib junction. The five young males were in the company of two adult females (Xpl-47 & Xpl-59) from the Hoanib Pride. The two Floodplain lionesses (Xpl-55 & Xpl-69) remained in the western section of the Floodplain and they were hunting a small herd of Oryx when last observed at sunrise.
12 Sep 2015. "Tullamore". Four of the five “Musketeers” are still with a lionesses of the Hoanib Pride close to the Ganamub Gorge, whilst Xpl-93 “Tullamore” left the area and walked all the way back to the Hoanib Floodplain (photo: bottom right). The two Floodplain lionesses were resting on the eastern edge of the dune-belt just west of Auses spring.
11 Sep 2015. Movement Updates.
10 Sep 2015. Hoanib Lioness. The “Five Musketeers” was observed mating with a lioness from the Hoanib Pride in the Hoanib River close to the Ganamub Gorge.
9 Sep 2015. New Study. The Warden of the Skeleton Coast Park, Joshua Kazeurua, has registered a research project on the management of lions that are currently repopulating the tourism areas of the Skeleton Coast Park. The study forms part of a Masters Degree in Environmental Management from the Centre for Environmental Management, UFS, South Africa. The Desert Lion Project has agreed to assist Mr Kazeurua with information and as an external supervisor. A data form was developed to collect information on carnivore sightings in the Skeleton Coast Park (see bottom left). The forms will soon be available at the entrance gates to the Park and at Terrace Bay. Visitors are requested to participate by recording their observation and submitting the forms for analysis.
8 Sep 2015. Cheetah Movement. The female cheetah, Xaj-2, moved more than 23 km during the day and she was in the dunes north of Auses at sunset. The “Five Musketeers” remained together after leaving the lionesses and headed in an easterly direction along the Hoanib River.
7 Sep 2015. "Musketeers". The entire Floodplain Pride was observed on the Hoanib Floodplain. During the past few weeks an alliance has developed between Xpl-91 “Ben” and Xpl-93 “Tullamore”. The two males are depicted walking together in all three photos below.
6 Sep 2015. Hoanib Cheetah. The female cheetah (Xaj-2) recovered from the immobilisation and she was observed near Amp’s Poort earlier this morning (photos: top row). The “Five Musketeers” have moved to the Hoanib Floodplain and reconnected with the lionesses (photo bottom: Xpl-90 “Polla”).
5 Sep 2015. Female Cheetah. An adult female cheetah was observed in the Hoanib River during the afternoon. After sunset the cheetah was immobilised and fitted with a satellite collar as part of an on-going study with the Ministry of Environment & Tourism. The cheetah (Xaj-2) is a reproductively active female (photo: bottom right) and she is approximately 7 years old.
4 Sep 2015. Hoanib Pride. Xpl-47 “Bianca” and the rest of the Hoanib Pride (photos below) consumed the Oryx carcass and moved through the mountains towards the Hoanib River. The “Five Musketeers” joined-up and they moved westwards to the Hoanib Floodplain.
3 Sep 2015. Mudorib. The Hoanib Pride (Xpl-47 “Bianca” and co.) killed an adult male Oryx close to the main Mudorib spring. Two camera-traps in the upper Mudorib River captured photos of the Hoanib Pride, the Hunkap male (Xpl-81) and an adult male leopard during the past three months (photos below).
2 Sep 2015. Hunkap. The Hunkap Pride, including the lioness Xpl-53 “Charlotte”, were located northeast of Hunkap spring. The lions moved into an inaccessible area before an attempt could be made to replace the faulty satellite collar of Xpl-53.
1 Sep 2015. Jack Scott. The Huab lions moved further east during the night and they were observed at the old and dilapidated Jack Scott Bridge that was built to cross the Huab River during the diamond-mining era.
31 Aug 2015. Huab River Mouth. The Huab Pride lionesses and four large cubs were located in the lower Huab River. They were hunting for Oryx amongst the vegetation and broken terrain of the dry riverbed 3.5 km from the mouth of the Huab River.
30 Aug 2015. "Musketeers". The second public screening of “Vanishing Kings” in Swakopmund went well with approximately 150 people attending the event at The Dome. Alta Bredenkamp is thanked for all the arrangements and Gernot Fritze for an outstanding audio-visual display. The “Five Musketeers” are still separated with Xpl-89 “Harry”, Xpl-90 “Polla” & Xpl-92 “Adolf” near Elephant Song and the other two returning to the Hoanib via the Mudorib River (see map).
28 Aug 2015. The Dome. The second public screening of the film “Vanishing Kings” in Swakopmund takes place at The Dome this evening at 18h30. The “Five Musketeers” have separated and two of them (Xpl-91 “Ben” & Xpl-93 “Tullamore”) have followed the Hoanib Pride lionesses towards Hunkap spring (see map).
26 Aug 2015. Cheetah Movements. The cheetah, Xaj-1, fitted with a satellite collar (see 4 Aug 2015) has favoured the tributaries north of the Hoanib River. The movements of Xaj-1 are indicated on the map below where the yellow numbers indicate the sequential days. Over a period of 15 days the cheetah moved 96.5 km at an average of 6.1 km per day. The minimum distance was 300 metres in a day and on two occasions the cheetah moved > 16 km per day (16.3 & 16.6 km). An index of activity (distance moved as a proportion of total distance per day) indicates that the highest period of activity was during the early morning (see graph).
25 Aug 2015. Two Screenings. Wilderness Safaris hosted two successful screenings of the film “Vanishing Kings” in Cape Town and Johannesburg respectively. The screenings were well attended and the discussions that were held during question/answer sessions generated a lot of interest. Carli Flemmer & Tracey Jaffe are thanked for arranging two memorable events.
24 Aug 2015. Computer Problems. The Desert lion Project would like to apologise for the lack of website updates during the past three days. This was due to a computer problem that has now been rectified.
20 Aug 2015.“Vanishing Kings”. Two unsuccessful nights were spent trying to immobilise one of the Okongwe lionesses in order to fit a satellite collar, but they were extremely skittish. The “Five Musketeers” remained in the lower part of the Hoanib River after they consumed the giraffe carcass. Fieldwork has been stopped for a week to attend to three additional premiere screenings of the film “Vanishing Kings” in South Africa and at the Dome in Swakopmund on 28 Aug 2015.
19 Aug 2015. Okongwe Lionesses. The Okongwe Pride was tracked in an effort to fit a new satellite collar to one of the lionesses. The lions were captured numerous times on the camera-trap in the area (photos below).
18 Aug 2015. Giraffe Carcass. The “Five Musketeers” were feeding on their giraffe kill in the lower Hoanib River whilst the two Floodplain lionesses killed an adult female Oryx on the Hoanib Floodplain approximately 4 km further east.
17 Aug 2015. Giraffe Kill. A sand/dust storm engulfed the lower Hoanib River during the afternoon and visibility was reduced to <100 metres at times. The “Five Musketeers” were quick to take advantage of the conditions and started hunting along the riverbed. They had two failed attempts on a herd of Oryx and a single giraffe bull, before they succeeded in killing an adult female giraffe.
16 Aug 2015. "Musketeers". The “Five Musketeers” returned from their excursions into the mountains of the Obias and Ganamub rivers. They arrived at Amp’s Poort at sunrise. The entire area was covered in a thick blanket of fog and the lions used the conditions to hunt for springboks and Oryx (photos below).
15 Aug 2015. Oryx. The Hoanib River is currently a hive of activity as large numbers of Oryx and springboks are visiting the ephemeral riverbed to feed on the green vegetation. The large carnivores, such as cheetahs, brown hyaenas and the lions, are observed regularly along the riverbed and they are all in good condition.
14 Aug 2015. Floodplain Lionesses. The “Five Musketeers” have been spending time in the mountains between the Obias and Ganamub Rivers, whilst their mothers have remained on the Hoanib Floodplain. There are abundant prey utilising the Floodplain and the lionesses killed an adult Oryx on 12 Aug 2015.
13 Aug 2015. Cheetah. The movements of the first cheetah (Xaj-1) fitted with a satellite collar (see 4 Aug 2015) have been interesting. Over a period of 7 days the cheetah moved 23.9 km at an average of 3.4 km per day. An attempt was made to fit another satellite collar to a cheetah at Amp’s Poort (photos below), but the animal remained in the mountains and could not be approached.
12 Aug 2015. Floodplain. The two Floodplain lionesses (Xpl-55 & Xpl-69) were located on the eastern section of the Hoanib Floodplain where they were observed stalking a herd of Oryx.
11 Aug 2015. Ugab Mouth. The Ugab males (Xpl-98 & Xpl-99 “Gretzky”) moved further inland into an inaccessible area north of the Ugab River. A more detailed assessment of their tracks at the mouth of the Ugab River revealed that they killed two juvenile Oryx at the small lagoon next to the beach. The two males ventured onto the beach where their tracks had been washed away by the high tide. This marks the first known visit by lions to the mouth of the Ugab River for more than 20 years.
10 Aug 2015. 99 "Gretzky". The Ugab lions occupy the southern frontier of the current distribution of the Desert lion population. They are important individuals that could potentially disperse towards the Swakop River and the Namib Naukluft Park (see News 25 Feb 2015). In order to effectively monitor the Ugab lions a substantial effort was made during the past three days to fit a VHF radio collar. A sub-adult male Xpl-99 “Gretzky” was immobilised last night and the collar was fitted (photos below). Xpl-99 is a cub of Xpl-75 “Angela” and our behavioural data suggest that the “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) was his father.
9 Aug 2015. Ugab Males. The two Ugab males continued moving in an easterly direction along the Ugab River. They rested inside a thick stand of reeds 39 km from Ugab Gate.
8 Aug 2015. Ugab Gate 2. The tracks of the two Ugab males were reconstructed as they explored the mouth of the Ugab River (see map). The lions moved further inland and they were resting 13 km from Ugab Gate during the day (photo bottom right).
7 Aug 2015. Ugab Gate. Two sub-adult male lions (Xpl-98 and his brother) of the Ugab Pride have spent the past three days <8 km from the mouth of the Ugab River. Last night they crossed the main road at Ugab Gate and were resting amongst the reeds 1.4 km from the ocean (photos below).
6 Aug 2015. Hoanib Activities 2. The nocturnal movements of the “Five Musketeers” between the Hoanib Floodplain and the Obias junction have been extensive as they juggled for positions to copulate with the Hoanib lioness. Xpl-91 “Ben” made a valiant effort to keep his brothers away from the oestrous lioness (Xpl-59), but he was no match for the persistence of the four sub-adult males.
5 Aug 2015. Hoanib Activities. Three of the “Musketeers” (Xpl-89, Xpl-90 & Xpl-92) returned to the Hoanib River and joined the lioness (Xpl-59) that is still in oestrous close to the Obias junction.
4 Aug 2015. Cheetah. The Desert Lion Project is collaborating with the Ministry of Environment & Tourism on a Namibian cheetah project. An adult male cheetah was immobilised in the Hoanib River and fitted with a satellite collar.
3 Aug 2015. Mating "Musketeer". Xpl-91 “Ben” displaced his four brothers and stayed with the lioness Xpl-59. They were observed copulating several times during the day. Xpl-93 “Tullamore” joined the Pride lionesses on the Hoanib Floodplain whilst the remaining three males moved south of Amp’s Poort.
2 Aug 2015. Mating "Musketeers". The Hoanib Pride lioness, Xpl-59 “E=MC^2”, did not conceive when she mated with some of the “Five Musketeers” during mid July 2015 (see 10 & Jul 2015). Two weeks later she came into oestrous again and the “Musketeers” found her in the same part of the Hoanib River. Two of the “Musketeers” (Xpl-90 “Polla” & Xpl-91 “Ben”) remained with the lioness. Even though the males are only 3.5 years old (males are sexually mature at 4 years) they were both observed copulating successfully with the 11-year-old lioness.
1 Aug 2015. Uniab Delta. The Obab Lionesses were observed close to the beach at the Uniab Delta. They were fully fed and the remains of an Oryx carcass were found nearby.
Visitor Map. Summary of visitors to the Desert Lion website since 15 Jan 2013.