Happy World Lion Day, 2022

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The Lion Rangers and numerous other programs across Africa take each 10 August to reflect on the past year and the ongoing challenge of lion conservation. There is still much work to be done, but we believe great progress is being made. Thanks to everyone who has dedicated their lives, time, and resources, to the worthwhile venture of ensuring a future for free-ranging lions.

Above are some of our favorite recent photos of some of our favorite lions from Kunene.

Camera Deployment; Plus an Unexpected Elephant Encounter

Lioness, photographed by trail camera in Hobatere.

An important part limiting human-lion conflict is knowing which lions are using which areas. As communal farmers return to dry season grazing areas of eastern Ehi-rovipuka, the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) is taking the lead on ensuring lions inhabiting the Hobatere tourism concession are not endangering pastoralists’ livelihoods. In partnership with the Lion Rangers, MEFT is overseeing an intensive trail camera deployment in Hobatere. This not only provides movement and demographic information on lions and other species, but helps MEFT and Lion Rangers assess which lions are using the area, and with what frequency.

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Collaring in Anabeb

Dr HO Reuter and Lion Rangers with immobilized desert-adapted lioness in Anabeb Conservancy.

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.

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Collaring in Hobatere Concession

Heydinger assisting with collaring in Hobatere.

Human-lion conflict challenges within the Ehi-rovipuka and ≠Khoadi-//Hôas conservancies bordering the Hobatere tourism concession necessitated a short-notice operation by the Lion Rangers in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT). In the past few months male lions have been causing problems for communal farmers along the Hobatere fence line. With support from MEFT veterinary services and the Community Conservation Fund of Namibia, a team of Rangers and MEFT staff spent an intensive three days in Hobatere. What they found there was somewhat surprising.

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Translocation Away from Trouble

NPL-27; photo taken from trail camera.

The rainy season has brought new challenges to the lions and Lion Rangers in northwest Namibia. As game have dispersed across the area, lions have followed prey species, bringing them into different areas and into contact with livestock and farmers. One particular challenge has concerned a male lion, NPL-27, first collared by the Namibian Lion Trust (NLT) in 2019. This male had been spending the majority of his time around the Okavariona-Otjiapa waterhole complex during 2021, as was made evident in numerous photos taken from our trail cameras. However, as the rainy season began other males moved into the area, seemingly pushing NPL-27 out and towards potential human-lion conflict.

(Warning: graphic content in link)

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Mending Etosha (Kaross) Fence

Male lion outside the Etosha boundary.

Etosha National Park encompasses more than 22,000 sq km of north-central and northwest Namibia. Keeping the entire park’s fence in good working order is a tall task, verging on the near impossible given the sandy substrate underlying the fence. This becomes a particular problem when lions from Etosha transgress the park’s boundary, moving onto communal land and potentially causing problems for neighboring livestock farmers.

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Law Enforcement Training

Lion Rangers Training at Waterberg Environmental Centre, April 2022

Greetings from Lion Rangers Training! From 15 to 29 April, Lion Rangers from across Kunene came together at the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism‘s (MEFT) Waterberg Environmental Centre for bi-annual Lion Ranger training. With support from MEFT, the Community Conservation Fund of Namibia, and TOSCO, this training primarily focused on developing the Lion Rangers’ capacities in assisting law enforcement.

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Monitoring and Conflict Avoidance

XPL-131 in near the Hoanib riverbed. Photo: A. Uararavi

Lion Rangers in the Sesfontein and Puros Conservancies have been hard at work over the last few weeks managing a difficult conflict situation. The male lion XPL-131, who normally inhabits the Hoanib riverbed, has gone on something of a walkabout further east through the Giribes Plain, towards the homesteads of the Gomatum riverbed area. Not normally a conflict-causing lion, Lion Rangers Rodney Tjivara, Steven Kasaona, and IRDNC Rapid Response Team Leaders, Allu Uararavi and Cliff Tjikundi have been working tirelessly to ensure this lion does not develop any bad habits, or cost the local farmers livestock. This has long been a farming area and is far afield from the core wildlife areas of Sesfontein and Puros.

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Patrols Across Kunene

Lion Rangers and NLT staff on patrol in Ehi-rovipuka, December 2021.

The holidays are an especially important time for the Lion Rangers. While the rest of Namibia is able to retreat to their family’s homestead, or vacation at Torra Bay, the Lion Rangers are hard at work to limit human-lion conflict. Because people, and therefore livestock, are on-the-move in such large numbers during the festive season, the Lion Rangers re-double their efforts. Particularly with the lack of rains in Kunene this year, many families are trekking with their goats, sheep, and cattle to ‘drought farms’, or dry season livestock posts where grazing is typically only used in drier times. This brings livestock and lions into potential conflict in a variety of hard-to-reach areas.

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October Collaring in Ombonde

Omatendeka Lion Ranger, Kandavii Nguezeeta, tracking lions in the Ombonde Research Area, in preparation for collaring, October 2021.

Over the past week, the Lion Rangers have been partnering with Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) game capture and veterinary staff to collar lions in the Ombonde Research Area. Following the recent poisoning of lions nearby here, including one male lion collared in the area in May, continuing to monitor lion movements in the area is considered a high priority.

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