Responding to two separate groups of young uncollared lions in Anabeb Conservancy, the Lion Rangers, in partnership with IRDNC and the Namibian Lion Trust, and under the leadership of the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, engaged in an intensive collaring operation of two separate groups, totaling thirteen lions, this past week.
These thirteen lions are thought to originate from the mountains just west of the Anabeb Conservancy, and were first encountered by the Lion Rangers as youngsters in late 2020/early 2021. During a previous collaring exercise in May 2021, no fewer than eleven adult and subadult lions were photographed near the Ombonde Research Area. These are suspected to be the same lions forming this total group of thirteen, though more work is needed to be sure. Across two operations within a single day, Dr. HO Reuter successfully darted five lions, two males and three females. The oldest of the males, OPL-2 had previously been collared during that earlier operation. He has now been fitted with satellite collar as he appears to be an important individual within this group.
Even with the recent rains and dispersal of prey in the area, all thirteen lions appear to be in good condition.
The first of the two collarings took place in the Anabeb foothills during the day. Luckily the cool weather enabled for safe immobilization during daylight hours – during the summer, temperatures in Kunene can be too extreme to safely immobilize large mammals such as lions in the heat of the day.
The second collaring took place in the early evening hours of the same night further west. Anabeb Lion Ranger Mbaendeka Kangombe, deeply knowledgeable of the area, along with TOSCO Rangers Kavesiere Rutavi and Katukaruka Karutjaiva, led this aspect of the operation. During this second collaring we were excited to be joined by a group of newly-minted Lion Rangers from the Zambezi Region of northeast Namibia. On an exchange program facilitated by IRDNC, these Rangers observed how the seasoned Kunene Lion Rangers approach tracking and collaring in this rugged area. Though the environments of the two regions are quite different, the core challenges of human-lion conflict are similar. Thanks to IRDNC Human-Wildlife Conflict Rapid Response Leader Cliff Tjikundi for spearheading this exchange.
All of this collaring necessitated a need for more satellite collars. We are most thankful to the Namibian Lion Trust, Desert Lion Conservation, and Ultimate Safaris for helping us procure the needed collars on short notice.