March 2018 - News Updates

Lion Ranger Training

A comprehensive training programme was held at the Wereldsend Environmental Centre. Cliff Tjikundi, the Rapid Response Team leader, and John Heidinger of IRDNC, have been working with 12 selected Lion Rangers from the Purros, Sesfontein and Anabeb Conservancies. They were brought to Wereldsend where the Desert Lion Project presented tailor-made training courses on the biology, behaviour and ecology of lions.

Lion Rangers TrainingLion Rangers Training

Vehicle Breakdown

The gravel roads in and around the Skeleton Coat Park are currently in an exceedingly poor condition following the holiday season. The research vehicle developed a problem with the rear differential that could fortunately be repaired in the field.

DLC vehicle rear differential repairDLC vehicle rear differential repair

Fitting GPS radio collars

A total of 4 days (96 hours) was devoted to searching for and fitting Early Warning / GPS collars to lions and brown hyaenas. These efforts formed part of Skeleton Coast Brown Hyaena Programme and the implementation of the NW Human-lion Conflict Management Plan. Despite an exhausting effort, no lions could be located, but three brown hyaenas were captured during the last 24-hour period. A dominant male brown hyaena, whose collar was damaged during a territorial clash six months ago, was located and immobilised. His faulty collar was replaced with a new GPS collar. Two additional brown hyaenas (from a new clan) were captured and fitted with new GPS collars.

Thermal Images of the darting of a brown hyaena at 04:09 on 11 Mar 2018
darting of a brown hyaenadarting of a brown hyaenadarting of a brown hyaena



Rain and floods complicate fieldwork.

Efforts to locate and fit Early Warning / GPS collars to the lions that frequent the upper Hoanib and Mudorib Rivers were complicated by rain showers and flash floods. The Hoaruseb River came down in flood on 20 Mar 2018 and flash floods in the Hoanib River reached the border of the Skeleton Coast Park on 23 Mar 2018.



Hunting giraffes – the legacy continues.

One of the three Orphans joined the adult lioness Xpl-69 and they have been frequenting the Hoanib River east of the Floodplain. The remain two Orphans expanded their movements southwards towards Terrace Bay and western section of the Hoanib Floodplain. They visited Mowe Bay on 16/7 Mar 2018 where they fed on a Cape fur seal that they scavenged from a brown hyaena.

Over the years the Hoanib Floodplain pride developed a culture of killing giraffes that started with the old lioness, Xpl-10 “The Queen”. The third Orphan (now just over two years of age) that joined Xpl-69 is already actively pursuing and hunting giraffes along the Hoanib River.