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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TOSCO Lion Rangers Video

See this great video, created by Lion Ranger partner TOSCO, focusing on the work of Dr. Philip Stander of Desert Lion Conservation and including Puros Lion Ranger Berthus Tjipombo in a star turn. Felix Vallat, TOSCO Founder and Lion Ranger Program Coordinator, has been integral to supporting the conservation of Northwest Namibia’s desert-adapted lions for years. Dr. Stander is a co-founder of the Lion Ranger program and has been performing in-depth field research on the desert-adapted lions since 1997.

Puros Lion Ranger Berthus Tjipombo

Death of XPL-69

XPL-69 in June 2018.

One of the great privileges of working closely with wild animals is getting to know individuals, their behaviors, tendencies, and quirks. Over the past few years the Lion Rangers have spent large amounts of time monitoring an older lioness known as XPL-69. This great privilege can also be a source of sadness when a known individual passes-away. This past week the body of XPL-69 was discovered by Dr. Stander after she died due to an apparent punctured lung from a porcupine. She was 13.5 years young. You can read his full account at desertlion.info.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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