16 July 2020 – Breaking News: Hoanib Lioness Xpl-69 died

Thursday 16 July 2020

Death of lioness Xpl-69

The Hoanib Floodplain lioness Xpl-69 died at the age of 13.5 years. Xpl-69 was the last direct descendant of the old lioness, the Queen (Xpl-10), and she was born in the Hoanib Floodplain on 1 February 2007.

Earlier in 2020, Xpl-69 herself gave birth to litter of three cubs (see below: 1 April 2020) that were last observed on 16 June 2020. Unusually late and scattered showers during April/May 2020 resulted in prey animals, such as gemsbok and springbok, vacating the lower Hoanib area and leaving the Floodplain pride with little available food in their home range. The lions moved large distances in search of food that was aggravated by many days of hot east-wind sandstorms. In a failed attempt to keep her three cubs alive, the lioness Xpl-69 overextended herself and lost physical condition.

On the night of 13 July 2020, the near-starving and weakened lioness killed a porcupine and died the following day. The body of Xpl-69 was recovered with the help of Wilderness Safaris and a necropsy was performed. Biological samples were collected to scan for various diseases, but the preliminary findings from the physical evidence suggests that the lioness died from asphyxiation due to a punctured lung due from a porcupine quill that pierced her chest cavity. The full results of the necropsy and the cause of death will be presented at a later date.

After the release of the two Vanishing Kings wildlife documentaries, the lioness Xpl-69 had become a celebrity in the Hoanib River and she was well known and respected by the tourism industry and visitors from all over the world. The young lioness Xpl-114 (Charly) that accompanied Xpl-69 is now the only surviving member of the group. A satellite radio collar will be fitted to Xpl-114 to monitor her movement closely during the next few months.

Xpl-69 at the age of  nine months

Xpl-69 at five the age of five years

Last observations of Xpl-69 crossing the dune-belt  to the coast on 5/6 July 2020

Last photographs of Xpl-69
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Remains of porcupine killed by Xpl-69

The body of Xpl-69 where she died 
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The necropsy of Xpl-69 to determine the cause of death
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