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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
28 Feb 2015. Okongwe Pride. Five lions of the Okongwe Pride, including Xpl-71, were observed in the southern section of the Okongwe Mountains (see photos below by F Barbera). This is a valuable observation because it confirms that the radio-collared lioness (Xpl-71), one unmarked adult female and three sub-adults survived the conflict incidents near Tomakas village during the latter part of 2014 where three satellite-collared lions (Xpl-73 “Rosh”, Xpl-68 “Terrace Male” & Xpl-96) were killed.
27 Feb 2015. Five Musketeers. For the past 10 days the Floodplain Pride and the “Five Musketeers” have been favouring the mountainous terrain especially along the Sawarugab River approximately 10 km north of the Hoanib River. The area received some rain and there are many herds of zebras and Oryx. Due to the difficult terrain it has not been possible to observe them, but a brief sighting confirmed that they are all still together and in good condition. The Ugab male (Xpl-98) has moved further north and he is currently 12 km south of the Ugab River.
26 Feb 2015. Brown Hyaena Effort. Six nights and approximately 105 hours were devoted to the Amp’s Poort brown hyaena clan. The main effort went into attempting to fit a GPS collar to the Alpha female “Joey” (Xhb-16) whilst conducting simultaneous observations at the den. Despite a few missed opportunities, “Joey” was too clever for the darting efforts. She was seen at the den and carrying food back to the cubs on a few occasions (photos: top row). Observation on the two cubs included fascinating social behaviour, such as playing (photo: bottom right).
25 Feb 2015. Lion in Dorob Park -2. The Ugab male (Xpl-98) first moved further south towards Cape Cross during the night, but then turned around and headed back to the Ugab River (see map below). Another 24 hours were spent trying to dart “Joey” (Xhb-16) without success.
24 Feb 2015. Lion in Dorob Park. The sub-adult male lion (Xpl-98) that was recently marked in the Ugab River with a satellite collar (see 10 Jan 2015) has moved southwards into the Dorob Park. He is currently near the Messum River east of Mile 108 and his movements are being monitored. Efforts to capture Xhb-16 “Joey” (see 22 Feb 2015) continue. She is a wise old girl and the simple procedure of replacing her radio collar is proving to be rather challenging (see photos below).
23 Feb 2015. Floodplain. An attempt was made to access the Hoanib Floodplain by vehicle. Most of the flooded areas are dry, but there are still pools of water and muddy sections (photo: top). The brown hyaena “Joey” (Xhb-16) finally returned to the den (photos: bottom).
22 Feb 2015. Brown Hyaenas. Two nights were spent searching for the radio-collared brown hyaena, Xhb-16 “Joey”, in order to replace her ageing VHF radio collar with a newly modified GPS collar. Several members of her clan were observed (photo below), but “Joey” has not yet returned from a foraging expedition to the west where her radio signal was last heard.
21 Feb 2015. Hoanib River. Large sections of the Hoanib River have dried up after the major flooding event in January 2015 (see 24-28 Jan 2015). The powerful floodwaters changed the course of the river and uprooted several big trees (photos below).
20 Feb 2015. Camera-Trap. A camera-trap on the Hoanib Floodplain became submerged during the surprise flash flood on 24 Jan 2015 (photo: bottom right). The memory card was removed, dried and cleaned, and it was possible to retrieve all the images up until the camera was submerged and covered in mud. The floodwaters reached the camera at 10h54 (photo: left). Six minutes later the water levels had risen to the camera at a height of 1.9 metres (photo: top right) and at 11h03 the camera was totally submerged and stopped working (move mouse over bottom right photo).
19 Feb 2015. Missing Lioness. Photographs taken by Tina Vinjevold of the Agab Pride on 24 Oct 2014 revealed an interesting record. Using vibrissae spot patterns it was possible to identify one of the pride lionesses (Xpl-60 “Fay”) that has not been seen for more than two years after her radio collar failed and dropped off.
18 Feb 2015. Ohima Mountain. A new camera-trap was mounted near Ohima Mountain in the Hoanib Floodplain on 23 Jan 2015. After only three weeks a surprising number of valuable images of brown hyaenas, caracals and cheetahs were downloaded (see photos below).
17 Feb 2015. Responsible Tourism. The Ministry of Environment & Tourism, in conjunction with the communal conservancies and Wilderness Safaris, have placed signposts in and around the Palmwag Tourism Concession area (photos: top left & middle). These signposts provide guidelines and information to tourists visiting the area. Despite a prominent request for tourists NOT to camp at waterholes or in the Hoanib River, the following images (see photos below) were captured at the “President’s Water” (Hoanib/Mudorib junction). The “Five Musketeers” were clearly disturbed by the tourists camping next to the “President’s Water”.
16 Feb 2015. Mudorib. Several herds of Oryx and Hartmann’s zebras were observed in the upper Mudorib tributaries. Two young adult lionesses joined the Hunkap males (Xpl-81 & Xpl-87 during the night. The Hoanib lionesses (Xpl-47 & Xpl-59) were located in the Hoanib River east of Ganamub Poort. It was possible to drive along the Hoanib River between Elephant Song and the Obias Junction following the flooding of two weeks ago.
15 Feb 2015. "Kebbel". The two Hunkap males (Xpl-81 “Kebbel” & Xpl-87) were observed at sunrise near Orowau spring. They roared often during the coolness of the early morning. When it became hot towards midday, they moved in an easterly direction to find shade under a rock-overhang.
14 Feb 2015. Kuarokhaob. Images were retrieved from four camera-traps in the upper Mudorib River and at Hunkap Spring. The two Hoanib Pride lionesses (E=MC^2 & “Bianca”) and their cubs were recorded several times near the main Mudorib spring during the past two weeks (photos below). The Hunkap lioness (Xpl-53 “Charlotte”) with several lionesses and sub-adults were located in the northern section of the Kuarokhaob Plains and the Hunkap male (Xpl-87) was found 7 km east of Orowau spring.
13 Feb 2015. Obab River. A small sub-group of the Obab Pride was located near the junction of the Uniab & Obab Rivers (photo: left). Images downloaded from a camera-trap in the lower Obab River contained records of a male leopard and a breeding female brown hyaena (see photos below).
12 Feb 2015. Brandberg Mountain. The Ugab lions are moving more regularly south of the Ugab River and along the northwestern slopes of the Brandberg Mountain.
10/11 Feb 2015. Cymot. The six new Cooper S/T tires, sponsored by Cymot, Namibia (see 5 Feb 2015), were fitted to the Land Cruiser. Detailed records (such as tire pressures, terrain & distances) will be kept during the next few months to evaluate the performance of the tires.
9 Feb 2015. Brandberg. The Ugab male (Xpl-98) has been spending time along the foothills of the Brandberg Mountain. Tracks suggest that he is in the company of 2 or 3 other lions. They are possibly hunting Hartmann’s zebras that utilise the area.
7/8 Feb 2015. Coast. During the past two days the Obab lionesses (see 30 Jan 2015) discovered the Uniab Delta and visited several of the springs near the mouth of the Uniab River. It is suspected that they made a kill in the reeds north of the Uniab River before they moved back towards the Obab River.
6 Feb 2015. Ugab Lion. The sub-adult male lion (Xpl-98) fitted with a satellite collar on 10 Jan 2015 has been moving up and down the Ugab River - between Brandberg and approximately 5 km east of the coast. The map below shows his movements (blue dots) during the past 24 hours.
5 Feb 2015. Tire Donation. Cymot Namibia approached the Desert Lion Project and made a substantial donation of six new Cooper tires. This initiative followed a period where the Project struggled with worn tires, with some tires having been patched far too many times (photo: left). Manfred Laborn and Francois Thirion of Cymot are thanked for facilitating the generous donation.
4 Feb 2015. Caracal. Data retrieved from the camera-traps on the western edge of the Hoanib Floodplain included pictures of the two Floodplain lionesses during one of the excursions without the “Five Musketeers” (photos: left & middle) and a valuable record of an adult male caracal (photo: right).
3 Feb 2015. "Yellow-billed Kites". Tens of thousands of Yellow-billed kites were observed south of the Huab River. They appeared to be feeding on termites. Large numbers were sitting in Mopane trees or on the ground, but the majority were flying - towering hundred of metres above ground level. The spectacle was reminiscent of the 1963 film “The Birds” directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
2 Feb 2015. "Joey". Monitoring of the brown hyaena den at Amp’s Poort is producing interesting data. The radio-collared female “Joey” (Xhb-16) and several other individuals are observed regularly. Records of the carcasses carried to the den suggest that the hyaenas eat a wide range of food items.
1 Feb 2015. Cheetah. A camera-trap that was mounted at a brown hyaena latrine under a granite rock overhang captured several images of a cheetah visiting the latrine or perhaps using the shade of the overhang.
31 Jan 2015. Obab Females. During the night the four Obab lionesses moved east of the dunes and into the Uniab River as they continued to search for prey. They were observed hunting another ostrich and an Oryx.
30 Jan 2015. Uniab Dunes. The recent rains and flooding of the ephemeral rivers have restricted access to large areas. The lower section of the Uniab River, however, was not affect by the floods. Four of the Obab lionesses were located in the dunes east of the Uniab Delta. They were observed hunting an ostrich.
29 Jan 2015. Hoanib Mouth. The force of the Hoanib River floodwaters managed to cut through 12.4 km of sand dunes after it dammed up against the western edge of the Hoanib Floodplain (see images 28 Jan 2015). The floodwaters then continued for another 4.5 km through reeds and sedges before it ran out of steam a few hundred metres from the ocean.
28 Jan 2015. World of Extremes. Extraordinary scenes were witnessed and documented during the past few days as the floodwaters in the Hoanib River increased and filled up the Floodplain. The “Five Musketeers” became trapped on an island as the waters levels rose. They eventually braved the strong currents and swam across to the southern bank of the river (photos: second row). On the morning of 27 Jan 2015 the water broke through the dunes towards the sea (photos below).
26 Jan 2015. Floodwaters Continue. The Hoanib River was a sight to behold as the floodwaters continued to flow throughout the night. By late-morning the water level was substantially higher at the border of the Skeleton Coast Park than the pervious day. The water also reached the dunes as large sections of the Floodplain has filled up.
25 Jan 2015. Flash Floods. The Floodplain lioness (Xpl-69) that is in oestrous did not respond to the distant calls from the rest of her pride. She moved in an easterly direction instead and roared occasionally as she searched for a mate (photo: top). During the early morning hours she killed an Oryx in the Hoanib River and then became trapped on a small island when the floodwaters arrived at 09h30. She guarded her kill for several hours, but eventually waded through the water to the southern bank. The floodwaters also trapped a small herd of giraffes in the rivers (photo: 2nd row left), but they too managed to get to the bank.
24 Jan 2015 13h00. Hoanib Flood. The Hoanib River came down in full flood this morning. The floodwaters reached Amp’s Poort at 09h30. The force of the flood and the volume of water had not been seen for many years. One of the Floodplain lionesses became trapped on an island in the River and she is being monitored.
24 Jan 2015. Lone Lioness. One of the Floodplain lionesses (Xpl-69) is in oestrous and has left the pride. Her behaviour has been unusual as she is clearly search for a male. Unfortunately there are no adult male lions in a very large area beyond her extended home range. The past two days have been overcast with soft rain falling occasionally.
Visitor Map. Summary of visitors to the Desert Lion website since 15 Jan 2013.