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.
During our week in the field we met with numerous farmers to introduce the project and receive their feedback. A top-line objective is for local communities to have input into the design and execution of the research. This aims to bridge community-based natural resource management (CBNRM) with in situ research taking place on communal land. The goal is to have projects, objectives, and methods that are informed by local needs and input. We believe this is another step-forward in implementing inclusive CBNRM in northwest Namibia. More updates to follow!