New Desert Lion Documentary!

In December 2019, reporters and camera operators from the Eastern Broadcasting Company of Taiwan spent time with Lion Ranger co-founder, Dr. Philip Stander. The resulting documentary follows Dr. Stander as he monitors and collects data on XPL-69 and XPL-114 (‘Charlie’), giving viewers an incredible glimpse into how his life and the lives of the desert-adapted lions intersect. Of particular interest are extended discussions with Dr. Stander about his more than thirty years working with lions in northwest Namibia and his devotion to his calling. It is so great that the story of the desert-adapted lions continues to be communicated around the world!

An Urgent Translocation

Orphaned Kowarib cubs being translocated.

In February a female lioness, XPL-121, was shot near a farm in the Anabeb Conservancy. She had been struggling to feed her three cubs, due to low numbers of prey in the area, and was increasingly encroaching on farmers’ livestock. In the following days the IRDNC Rapid Response Teams, Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism staff, and Lion Rangers, worked tirelessly to try to capture the newly orphaned cubs. They were unsuccessful. This was considered an urgent matter as the cubs were unable to feed themselves. Thankfully, the Anabeb Conservancy stepped in. In the ensuing months conservancy management and members donated donkeys to feed the orphaned cubs and ensure their survival until they could be safely captured and translocated away from danger.

Continue reading

Northwest Game Count, 2020

Northwest Game Count data collection in the ≠Khoadi-//Hôas Conservancy.

It is that time of the year again, for the Northwest Game Count. The world’s longest running and largest road-based game count has been an annual event among conservancies since 2000. This year marks the twentieth anniversary and it was certainly a memorable one: the first to take place in the time of social distancing.

Conservancy Game Guards in Torra spotting a black-backed jackal.
Continue reading

Memorial for Garth Owen-Smith

Yesterday a large and diverse group paid tribute to IRDNC founder, committed conservationist, and hero to many Garth Owen-Smith at Wereldsend. Said TOSCO founder and Lion Ranger program coordinator Felix Vallat, “It was sincere, moving, inspiring…a perfect between Himba traditional funerals and a western one. Garth left a big space for us to grow and bloom, which we will!” The ceremony brought together people from across Namibia and the thoughts and prayers of a world of partners who could not return due to travel restrictions. There were private planes and traditional Himba marches, headmen from the north and local friends, hunters and wildlife advocates, a truly cross-cultural crowd of partners, all of whom were inspired by Garth’s message and commitment to making the world a better place.

Continue reading

New Logger Tower in Anabeb

Another Early-Warning System tower, this one at Otjitoveni.

Over the weekend the Lion Rangers of Anabeb Conservancy, led by IRDNC’s Rapid Response Team, and partnering with Conservancy Game Guards and local villagers, erected another Early-Warning System tower at Otjitoveni. This farm is home to Lion Ranger Ronald Karutjaiva as well as IRDNC Rapid Response Team Leader Linus Mbomoboro. For more than two years Karutjaiva and Mbomboro have been working to limit human-lion conflict across the northwest, including setting-up Early Warning towers at numerous farms. During that period their attention has been taken from their own livestock and they have lost numerous goats and sheep to lions. Despite consistent efforts by local herders to play their part, a group of lions has made themselves too comfortable near Otjitoveni and it was decided the time was right to erect another Early Warning tower. Thanks to the Anabeb Conservancy for their help and for assisting Karutjaiva and Mbomboro so they can continue their work across the region.

Images from the Hoanib River and Floodplain

During the Covid-19 pandemic the work of conserving the desert-adapted lions and other wildlife of northwest Namibia continues. While the Lion Rangers and IRDNC Rapid Response Team Leaders continue to partner with local communities to limit human-lion conflict, Lion Ranger co-founder Dr. Flip Stander has been hard at work along Namibia’s Skeleton Coast. Below are just a few of the images and videos Flip has collected in the past weeks. Flip’s work is central to better understanding the ecology of desert-adapted lions and other carnivores in the region and his insight is critical to the work of the Lion Rangers. You can learn more about Flip’s long-term research and work with the Lion Rangers at the Desert Lion Conservation website.

Male desert-adapted lion in the Hoanib riverbed.
Continue reading

Garth Owen-Smith, 1944-2020

Garth Owen-Smtih

On 11 April, 2020, Garth Owen-Smith, co-founder of Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation (IRDNC), and the widely-regarded ‘father’ of Namibia conservation passed-away peacefully. Garth dedicated his life to advocating for Namibia’s wildlife and wild places. His commitment to community-based natural resource management (CBNRM), was on-display throughout a career spanning six decades, which he primarily spent in northwest Namibia. His loss is felt keenly by all who work to maintain wildlife conservation in Namibia.

Continue reading

Covid-19 and Big Cats

One of the tigers at the Bronx Zoo. Credit: National Geographic

Over the weekend, a four-year-old Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City tested positive for Covid-19. The tiger, along with six other big cats, including three other tigers and three lions, had been displaying symptoms similar to those displayed by humans infected with Covid-19, including a dry cough. A positive test for Covid-19 was confirmed by the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory.

Here is the statement released by the Wildlife Conservation Society, who runs the Bronx Zoo and also supports IRDNC’s human-wildlife conflict Rapid Response Teams. All seven big cats appear to have been infected by a zoo keeper and all are expected to recover fully.

Continue reading