Get to Know the Desert-Adapted Lions

A member of the Omukutu pride

An important part of monitoring the desert-adapted lions is maintaining a near-comprehensive account of each individual in the population. As part of the recently-completed Northwest Lion Population Survey, the Lion Rangers and partnering researchers were able to identify and photograph what we consider to be each adult member of the population. (Of course, we keep working to identify other individuals.)

We are pleased to now include on this virtual space a comprehensive photographic account of each known individual composing the desert-adapted lion population. This roster will be updated as new information and photographic evidence becomes available. The ‘Desert-adapted Lions’ link and heading will remain at the top of this site going forward.

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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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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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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Northwest Game Count

Giraffe in Torra Conservancy. Photo: A Wattamaniuk

Each year, the second half of May is set-aside by conservationists in northwest Namibia for the annual Northwest Game Count.  The focus of this operation is to inform conservancies and Namibia’s Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism of wildlife numbers for the purposes of adaptive resource management. The NW Game Count is the largest and longest-running road-based game count in the world, the Lion Rangers are always pleased to participate.

The game count takes place on communal and government-managed lands and is comprised of four distinct sub-areas: conservancies south of the veterinary control fence, conservancies north of the fence, the tourism concession areas of Etendeka, Hobatere, and Palmwag, and Skeleton Coast National Park. Conducted annually, the game count covers nearly seven million hectares and is undertaken as a joint exercise between conservancy members and staff, as well as NGOs, all overseen by MEFT.

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Human-Wildlife Conflict Conference

Hon. Pohamba Shifeta addresses the conference.

The Lion Rangers’ Leadership Team was honored to attend and present at the recent Namibia National Human-Wildlife Conflict Conference, hosted by Namibia’s Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism (MEFT), which took place in Windhoek from 10-12 May. This three-day, first-of-its-kind conference highlighted the challenges faced by rural communities living alongside wildlife.

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Lions in Etosha: A Brief History

Lions have long inhabited Namibia’s Etosha National Park. Over the past half-century their numbers have fluctuated greatly. Gail Thomson, of the Namibian Chamber of the Environment‘s publication Conservation Namibia, recently published a blogpost distilling much of the history of lions in Etosha. This post recaps a recent paper co-authored by Lion Rangers’ Research Director John Heydinger, along with Craig Packer and Paul Funston, which was published in 2022 by the Namibian Journal of Environment. You can view the whole paper here. Thanks to the Namibian Chamber of Environment for highlighting this research.

Population Survey Week 8: Thick Bush

Video of desert-adapted cubs and lionesses, Etendeka Concession, December 2022.

Teams from the Northwest Lion Population Survey continued working to identify as many lions as possible across the Kunene Region. During week 8 our teams focused on the farming areas of eastern Anabeb Conservancy, where groups of lions have been splitting and re-forming recently. Further east Lion Rangers performed extensive foot patrols across the vast spaces of Ehi-rovipuka and Omatendeka conservancies. While no known lions were thought to be in these areas, our approach focused on landscape coverage to minimize the likelihood of unknown and unnoticed individuals. Over the Christmas and New Years holidays to Lion Rangers and MEFT staff worked tirelessly to complete this operation, with some great initial results. Particularly within Anabeb numerous collared and uncollared lions were observed and photographed.

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Population Survey Week 7: Eastern Conservancies

OPL-38 with zebra carcass, December 2022.

We begin the eastern portion of the Northwest Lion Population Survey focusing on the conservancies of ≠Khoadi-//Hoas, Omatendeka, and Orupupa. For these remaining weeks, three teams are responsible for different areas along the escarpment and bordering Etosha National Park. In recent years this has been the main area of human-lion conflict in the northwest, as well as containing the majority of lions in Kunene. During this first week we observed and photographed lions across the area – the groups appear to be thriving.

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