Checking In on the Huab Lions

Group of desert-adapted lions near the Huab riverbed.

Rainfall further east is bringing prey further up the Huab riverbed, towards the settlements of De Riet in Torra Conservancy and Rennevoote along the Torra-Doro !Nawas Conservancy border. Over the past week the Lion Rangers and IRDNC Rapid Response Teams have been working alongside staff from the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism to keeps tabs on lions in the area. With the low density of prey there was some concern that the lions may be struggling to find food. However, extensive video and photographic evidence was reviewed and leading scientists and field practitioners agreed the lions are doing well considering the season and relative lack of rainfall, and thus prey.

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Lion Ranger Foot Patrol in Ombonde

Jendery Tsaneb and the Lion Rangers overlooking the Ombonde research area.

During the holidays the Lion Rangers were hard at work. While assisting with the construction of the new Ombonde Research and Monitoring Camp, the Lion Rangers from Ehi-rovipuka, Omatendeka, and Orupupa conservancies rotated through intensive foot-based patrols spanning the central Ombonde catchment – the heart of our monitoring project in the area.

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New Ombonde Research and Monitoring Camp

Finished look at the new ORMC.

Throughout December and early January, the Lion Rangers from Ehi-rovipuka, Omatendeka, and Orupupa conservancies joined staff from Namibia’s Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, as well as volunteers from each conservancy to begin – and complete! – construction of the Lion Rangers new home in the Ombonde catchment area. The Ombonde Research and Monitoring Camp (ORMC) will be the new field base for the Lion Rangers and other conservancy field staff working in the Ombonde area.

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Tracking and Collaring in the Huab

Aba-Huab Pride

This past week the Lion Rangers, accompanied by Dr. Philip Stander of Desert Lion Conservation, performed an intensive tracking of an as of yet uncollared group of lions near the Huab River. This group, descended from lions further south in the Ugab River, has been known in the area, though they have not been the cause of human-lion conflict. Nevertheless, their proximity to farmers in the area of De Riet has been some cause for concern.

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Cubs

Check out the first footage of a new group of cubs in the Ombonde catchment study area. These cubs were seen with a pride male and three adult lionesses just following the recent full moon. The Lion Rangers will be monitoring this group closely over the coming years to learn more about the group’s dynamics and movements as the cubs grow and gain experience in the mountainous area.

Cubs and male lion.

Reconnaissance in the Mountains

View of the Ombonde river catchment study area.

This past week Dr. John Heydinger and Lion Ranger Field Assistant Jendery Tsaneb recommenced their foot-based exploration of the mountainous terrain surrounding the Ombonde river catchment. In partnership with Namibia’s Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, the University of Minnesota Lion Center is pioneering a new lion monitoring and conservation project in the area.

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New Early-Warning Towers

Early-warning tower materials arriving at Ganamub, Sesfontein Conservancy

This past week the Lion Rangers and IRDNC Human-Wildlife Conflict Response teams headed to the conservancies of Sesfontein and Puros to deploy another pair of early-warning system towers. This innovative new system of collecting, storing, and disseminating lion data was pioneered by Dr. Philip Stander of Desert Lion Conservation and has become an invaluable tool and resource for communal herders in northwest Namibia as they manage the difficulties of living alongside the desert-adapted lions.

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Lion Rangers – Covid Chronicles

Here is a brand new video from Travel Channel Namibia starring the Lion Rangers, program co-founder Dr. Philip Stander, and TOSCO founder and Lion Rangers Program Coordinator, Felix Vallat. In this video you can hear Rodney, and Rapid Response Leaders Linus and Cliff talk about the work of the Lion Rangers. Thanks so much to Covid Chronicles for spending time with the Lion Rangers and for bringing attention to the challenges they face.

Understanding Human-Lion Conflict

Lion Ranger program co-founders, Dr. Philip Stander and Russell Vinjevold, provide an in-depth explanation on the challenges of human-lion conflict within communal lands in northwest Namibia. Dr. Stander explains the challenges faced by local communities in arid northwest Namibia. In particular, Stander emphasizes the give-and-take between community needs and the lions’ needs following the outcomes of drought and livelihood reductions, which have been exacerbated by Covid-19.

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