Northwest Lion Population Survey Overview

OPL-27, Omatendeka Conservancy

The Northwest Lion Population Survey took place from 6 November 2022 to 6 January 2023. This was the first comprehensive count of lions inhabiting northwest Namibia. An overview of the survey’s outcomes was recently published in an online version of the annual Conservation and Environment in Namibia magazine. This overview outlines the process and results of the survey. Highlights include the estimated northwest lion population of 57-60 adult individuals, and low density, estimated at 0.11 lions/100 sq. km.

The complete version is available here.

A full report of the Northwest Lion Population survey has been submitted to Namibia’s Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) management for comment. It will be made available by MEFT in due course.

Lion Rangers Awarded

Lion Rangers Esau Matundu, Rinoveni Tjauira, Kaidue Uaroua, and Jackson Kavetu receiving their awards for top performance during the past year.

On 27 October, the Lion Rangers were proud to celebrate the dedication, commitment, hard work, and accomplishments of our top performing Rangers for the past year. Esau Matundu from TOSCO and Ehi-rovipuka Conservancy, Rinoveni Tjauira from the Namibia Lion Trust and Omatendeka Conservancy, Kaidue Uaroua from Ehi-rovipuka, and Jackson Kavetu from the Namibian Lion Trust and Ehi-rovipuka were all recognized at a special ceremony in ǂKhoadi-ǁHôas Conservancy. This event, hosted by the Community Conservation Fund of Namibia, in partnership with Namibia’s Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism, not only recognized the work of these four, but the great strides by the Lion Rangers and other committed conservationists to ensure a future for the region’s wildlife.

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More Collaring to Limit Conflict

Lion Rangers Esau Matundu and Rinoveni Tjauira with John Heydinger, examining a lioness’ tooth wear during collaring in Etosha National Park.

Over the past two weeks the Lion Rangers, in partnership with MEFT Regional Services and Game Capture staff, collared six lions (one male and three females) along the boundary of Etosha National Park and within the communal areas of northwest Namibia. These operations, requested by MEFT, are an important part of continuing to limit human-lion conflict and secure the desert-adapted lion population.

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Collaring to Limit Conflict

Southern Anabeb pride, Anabeb Conservancy. Photo: Allu Uararavi

Over the past week, Lion Rangers from Anabeb, Doro !Nawas, Ehi-rovipuka, Omatendeka, and Torra conservancies joined forces to track and collar conflict-causing lions in Anabeb and Omatendeka conservancies. The lack of adequate rainfall this past year has pushed prey species into the mountains of Kunene, leaving lions and other large carnivores with limited prey options in many areas. This has led to a recent uptick in human-lion conflict (HLC). To support the livelihoods of rural communities and keep lions safe, the Lion Rangers and Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT) staff engaged in an emergency collaring operation. Additionally, in partnership with veterinarian Dr. Diethardt Rodenwoldt, the Research Team decided to translocate a conflict-causing male from a farming area in the ǂKhoadi-ǁHôas Conservancy.

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Lion Rangers Training and Operations Manual

Lioness. Photo: A Wattamaniuk.

During Lion Rangers training this past year, each Ranger was provided with a Training and Operations Manual. These manuals, developed by the Lion Rangers Leadership Team, provide an overview of Rangers’ roles and responsibilities, as well as necessary information to help Rangers perform their demanding work. Published in partnership with the Community Conservation Fund of Namibia, this manual is made available for download here. It provides all who are interested with a concise summary of the work of the Lion Rangers and challenges of performing community conservation of lions in northwest Namibia.

Patrolling in the Mountains

Uncollared subadult males; cubs of OPL-10.

From 26 August to 2 September, the Lion Rangers performed a special point-to-point foot patrol through the mountains of Etendeka Concession, into the Omatendeka and Ehi-rovipuka conservancies. This special patrol was supported by a group of local partners, who joined the Rangers and covered the costs of transport and food, which enabled the Rangers to get deep into the mountainous area. This important patrol enabled the Rangers to cover areas which often prove unreachable.

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The Early-Warning System: a Ranger’s Perspective

In this short video, Lion Ranger Patrol Leader Jendery Tsaneb explains how the Early-Warning System works to inform area farmers when collared lions are nearby. The Early-Warning System, pioneered to limit human-lion conflict in northwest Namibia, is integral to the work of the Lion Rangers and helping limit human-lion conflict in northwest Namibia.

Thanks to WWF-Namibia for providing the filming and taking an interest in the program.

New Paper: Lion Rangers and Remote Sensing

A new paper by Lion Rangers Program Research Director, Dr. John Heydinger examines how the Lion Rangers are integrating remote sensing technologies with desert-adapted lion conservation on communal lands. This paper, published for a special issue of Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution details the use of GPS/satellite collars, trail cameras, and the Lion Rangers use of the Spatial Monitoring and Reporting Tool (SMART). Combined with the pillars of community-based natural resource management, we believe these technologies can help limit human-lion conflict on communal lands.

Collaring in Anabeb Conservancy

Lion Rangers and MEFT collaring team, Anabeb Conservancy

Over the past week the Lion Rangers, partnering with Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism Game Capture and Regional Services staff, recollared the lioness XPL-139 in the Anabeb Conservancy. Following the Northwest Lion Population Survey, the Lion Rangers and MEFT Regional Services have put a renewed emphasis on re-collaring lions inhabiting communal lands, particularly those living close to farming areas. XPL-139, along with her pride-mates XPL-137 and XPL-138 have consistently stayed close to the Okomimuno farming area of Anabeb.

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Patrol and Trail Cameras around Brandberg

Brown hyena captured on trail camera.

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.

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