A lingering question from the Northwest Lion Population Survey has been the presence or absence of lions around the Brandberg area of Tsiseb Conservancy. In the past it was known that a small group of lions inhabited the ephemeral Ugab riverbed and surrounding landscape. During the population survey no lions or evidence of lions was found in the area. To be more certain, the Lion Rangers Research Team and Sorris Sorris Rangers spent the past week intensively searching the Ugab and surrounding landscape.
Working closely with Save the Rhino Trust Rhino Rangers and trackers we found no concrete evidence of lions inhabiting the area. Conversations with local community members and tourism staff indicated lions were seen as recently as November 2022, but there has been little evidence of lions since. To address this issue, we augmented our on-the-ground investigation by deploying 27 trail cameras at key waterholes and along know carnivore-movement corridors, in the hopes of recording lion movements, should they remain in the area.
The operation also enabled the Sorris Sorris Rangers to take a closer look at the movement of leopard and spotted hyena around Brandberg. The Lion Rangers are aware that human-carnivore conflict is not limited to lions; in many parts of northwest Namibia spotted hyena and leopard are responsible for greater livestock losses than lions are. This foray into hyena and leopard monitoring is part of a new emphasis on expanding the scope of the Lion Rangers work to address the broader suite of human-wildlife conflict experienced by conservancy residents. In the coming months we will look to focus on the movements and effects of spotted hyena. Watch this (virtual) space for more news as well as results from the trail cameras.