Covid-19 and Big Cats

One of the tigers at the Bronx Zoo. Credit: National Geographic

Over the weekend, a four-year-old Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York City tested positive for Covid-19. The tiger, along with six other big cats, including three other tigers and three lions, had been displaying symptoms similar to those displayed by humans infected with Covid-19, including a dry cough. A positive test for Covid-19 was confirmed by the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory.

Here is the statement released by the Wildlife Conservation Society, who runs the Bronx Zoo and also supports IRDNC’s human-wildlife conflict Rapid Response Teams. All seven big cats appear to have been infected by a zoo keeper and all are expected to recover fully.

Continue reading

Unknown Group Along the Escarpment

Over the past week, Dr. John Heydinger and Lion Ranger Field Operations Assistant Jendery Tsaneb, have been moving on foot through the Etendeka Concession in search of previously unmarked and uncollared groups of desert-adapted lions. This area is incredibly rugged and necessitated Heydinger and Tsaneb covering more than 80 km on-foot over five days. Their efforts were not in vain as ample evidence of multiple groups of lions inhabiting the area was uncovered.

Continue reading

Field Set-Up Along the Escarpment

During the past week some of the Lion Rangers, led by Sr. Lion Ranger Phineas Kasaona, performed reconnaissance work within the Anabeb, Ehirovipuka, and Omatendeka conservancies along the escarpment. These highland areas have been spared some of the worst effects of drought and in certain locations, including around the Otjomonbonde and Okahavariona waterholes, game was still visible; albeit in limited numbers. Some highlights included a group of five eland spotted in the southern Omatendeka conservancy, herds of springbok near Otjihapa, some intensive foot-based lion tracking, and cool temperatures at night. Special thanks to the ladies of Otjizeka for assisting us while performing some needed vehicle repairs.

The primary purpose of the visit was logistics planning for 2020-2021. For years a subpopulation of lions has inhabited the area but without comprehensive population monitoring taking place. As was mentioned in an earlier update, the Lion Rangers, in partnership with the University of Minnesota Lion Center, are taking charge of monitoring lions in the area beginning early next year. Watch this space for exciting news about the project as well as updates from the field.

Continue reading

Northwest Lion Working Group Meeting, Swakopmund

Collared lioness in northwest Namibia. Photo: AJ Wattamaniuk

Conservation of northwest Namibia’s lions is more than just time in field. Management planning and policy development is critical to the successful long-term conservation of the population. The Northwest Lion Working Group (NWLWG) spearheads policy development, management decisions, and the development of field protocol and methodology for all aligned governmental, community, and NGO actors helping to conserve the lions in northwest Namibia and limit human-lion conflict. On 7 May, 2019, the NWLWG gathered in Swakopmund to review progress over the past year, plan for field activities for the rest of 2019, hear presentations from potential partners, review policy and make recommendations to the Ministry of Environment and Tourism (MET). This meeting was chaired by Kenneth //Uiseb, the MET Deputy Director of Scientific Services and Uakendisa Muzuma, the MET Large-Carnivore Coordinator who also chairs the NWLWG Technical Committee.

Continue reading