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.

The above video was taken on a single day, 39 km (!), foot patrol of Ehi-rovipuka along the southern bank and hills of the Ombonde river. Rumors have been circulating of an uncollared group of lions in the hills above a nearby farm. This roadless area is rarely visited by either conservationists or local herders, but Lion Ranger Uaroua Kaidue, patrol manager Jendery Tsaneb, and Dr. John Heydinger were able to penetrate into the mountains to find the ephemeral spring known as Ejo Erangorongombe. There they found abundant evidence of mountain zebra and even some goats and sheep, but little indication the local lions were using the area.

Ehi-rovipuka Lion Ranger Uaroua Kaidue
Ehi-rovipuka Lion Ranger Esau Tjeundo examines injuries on a donkey.

Recently a group of uncollared lions came out of the Hobatere Concession and killed one donkey while injuring another near the farm Arizona. The above photo shows Ehi-rovipuka Lion Ranger Esau Tjeundo examining the injured donkey for evidence of lion damage. Tjeundo and Tsaneb explained to local farmers how to identify lion damage by tell-tale signs of claw marks around the neck and hindquarters. While the first donkey was killed the second donkey was lucky to escape and is expected to make a full recovery. Extensive discussion with farmers at Arizona over numerous days following the incident has helped reinforce the importance of kraaling livestock overnight. Rather than offering compensation for livestock lost the Lion Rangers proactively work with farmers to build tolerance, better understand lion ranging and behavior, and to keep lines of communication open so farmers can receive timely assistance. Tjeundo and other Ehi-rovipuka Lion Rangers are playing an important role in turning the Arizona farming area from a human-lion conflict ‘hotspot’ into a stronghold of farmer tolerance and developing farmers as conservation partners.

Male lion resting near Ombonde research area.

Lions have continued mating near the research area. The above photo was taken by a local guide and sent to us: apparently the fellow has tired himself out.

Rain clouds building in Ombonde

With the close of patrol we drove out through the Ombonde river as threatening rain clouds were closing in. A wonderful sight but we didn’t relish getting stuck behind the river in Ehi-rovipuka (again).

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