Death of XPL-69

XPL-69 in June 2018.

One of the great privileges of working closely with wild animals is getting to know individuals, their behaviors, tendencies, and quirks. Over the past few years the Lion Rangers have spent large amounts of time monitoring an older lioness known as XPL-69. This great privilege can also be a source of sadness when a known individual passes-away. This past week the body of XPL-69 was discovered by Dr. Stander after she died due to an apparent punctured lung from a porcupine. She was 13.5 years young. You can read his full account at desertlion.info.

XPL-69 was the last remaining cub of XPL-10. The so-called ‘Queen’ was herself a long-lived desert-adapted lioness who was so central to re-establishing a viable lion population on communal land. XPL-69 was well-known to tourist vehicles and conservationists for her general ease around vehicles – though she was also known to cause trouble with farmers occasionally. From nearly the day of her birth until her death, her movements were tracked by radio and GPS collars. This information will be critical to a more thorough understanding of the lives of Namibia’s desert-adapted lions. Her last brood of cubs was born earlier this year, though it appears that none survived recent drought conditions. Her companion, XPL-114 (‘Charly’) continues residing in Hoanib river and will surely carry on the legacy.

Photos from Luuk Eikelboom and Felix Vallat

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