Translocation of XPL-133

The lioness XPL-133 south of the Huab.

A lack of available prey is driving an apparent increase in human-lion conflict (HLC) in northwest Namibia, particularly among lions inhabiting the boundaries of the northern Namib desert. In December 2020, the Lion Rangers partnered with Dr. P. Stander of Desert Lion Conservation to collar the ‘new’ Huab pride. This group of four received the monikers XPL-133, XPL-134, and XPL-135, a fourth unmarked female is also part of the group. In the following months the group has been repeatedly monitored by the Lion Rangers to assess their condition and to help limit conflict at the area of De Riet in Torra Conservancy. This was initially successful. However, as rains began falling further east, the Huab lions were struggling to find available prey. This led to their first recorded conflict incident towards the end of March.

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Responding to HLC in Anabeb

Four uncollared desert-adapted lionesses.

Human-lion conflict (HLC) has been on the rise in the areas bordering Palmwag Concession. In particular, around the Mbakondja area, a recent spate of HLC incidents have led to livestock mortalities and even in lions being shot with MEFT approval. This past week the Lion Rangers received a call of a cow being killed while herded in the field west of Khowareb. A woman was tending her goats and few cattle near an ephemeral waterpoint in the mountains when she reported two lions chased a cow away from the group. IRDNC Human-Wildlife Support Teams arrived within a few hours to find the remnants of the cow’s carcass and four lionesses resting nearby.

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Response at White Lady

White Lady Painting at Brandberg.

Even desert-adapted lions like to take in Namibia’s iconic tourism destinations. Last week a group of three desert-adapted lions made themselves comfortable directly in front of Namibia’s famous ‘White Lady’ painting at Brandberg West. The groups’ presence temporarily closed the hiking trail, just as the busiest tourist weekend in more than a year was getting under way.

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HLC in the Huab

Over the past weekend Rapid Response Team and Research Teams were in the area of the Huab responding to the close proximity of the ‘Group of Four’ to De Riet. While this group resides nearby, the lack of available prey west of the escarpment, following the good rains inland, is drawing our attention to them and other groups in the far west.

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Patrols in Ombonde

Clouds gathering near base camp.

The rains are bringing unforeseen wildlife movements to the northwest, increasing the importance of active patrol to better account for lion, wildlife, and livestock movements. Last week’s Lion Ranger patrol in the Ombonde research and monitoring area emphasized uncovering seasonal waterpoints to better anticipate prey and lion movements during the rainy season.

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Monitoring Near Base Camp

Lioness with ostrich carcass in Torra Conservancy.

Over the past five days the Lion Rangers and program partners have been intensively monitoring four separate groups in Torra Conservancy and Ombonde research area.

On Friday, the group of XPL-105, composed of three adult females, killed an ostrich, fewer than 100m south of the road to Torra Bay – right along one of our team’s morning running routes! The three females easily dispatched the ostrich and had little problem keeping the pied crows and lappet-faced vultures at bay. Follow-up tracking the next day enabled us to recreate how the ostrich was stalked in a riverbed, then taken down and dragged under a nearby tree. After feeding on the carcass into the evening the three females moved into the Springbok River, coming within 6km of Driefontein farm. However, as one Driefontein farmer noted, “I know these lions. They are disciplined and do not cause problems.”

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Lion Rangers 2020 Program Report

We are pleased to announce the release of the Lion Rangers 2020 Annual Report! Though 2020 was a challenging year for everyone, the Lion Ranger program persevered and emerged stronger than ever. The report provides updates on our work and expected activities for the rest of 2021. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you are interested in learning more about the program.

A big thanks to all our supporters! Here’s to a great 2021!

Lion Ranger Training

≠Khoadi-//Khoas Lion Ranger Sonnet !Haoses at training

This past week 32 Lion Rangers from 11 conservancies attended our third Lion Ranger training at Wêreldsend Environmental Centre in northwest Namibia. The training, organized by IRDNC and chaired by Rapid Response Teams Coordinator Cliff Tjikundi, focused on bringing both new Rangers and those now long-established, and setting the course for the upcoming year.

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Over the past months the rainy season has begun getting underway in Etosha National Park and further east. However, it had not made it to the Lion Rangers’ conservancies. That all changed in Ehi-rovipuka, Omatendeka, and Orupupa this past week. While performing foot-based patrol in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT), some of the Lion Rangers got separated from their camps near Palmfontein when the rivers began running.

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