Population Survey Week 5: Torra and the Huab

Desert-adapted lioness, XPL-108, near Huab riverbed, Torra Conservancy.

Having completed the Palmwag Concession, Puros, Sesfontein, and Anabeb conservancies, the NW Lion Population Survey is beginning to focus further south within the so-called “western” area of the desert-adapted lions’ range; being the areas below and to the west of the African escarpment. These areas maintain the lowest recorded free-ranging sustainable lion densities in Africa, making survey work very challenging indeed. Our technical teams have already begun refining methods for the rest of this survey, as well as future surveys as we continue to monitor the lions in the region. The week’s activities were punctuated by collaring three problem-causing lions and teams surveying all the way to Huab river mouth.

Farming Areas

Lion Rangers and MEFT Game Capture team with recently collared desert-adapted lion. [brandmark removed.]

Human-lion conflict can even take place when Lion Rangers and MEFT staff are deployed to Kunene en masse. While surveying the area, teams were informed of recent human-lion conflict incidents taking place in Torra Conservancy. Together, Teams 1 and 3 focused on responding to and averting further conflict, while still focusing on surveying this farming area. The conflict necessitated the collaring of three potential problem-causing lions near Torra. This operation was overseen by MEFT Game Capture and Scientific Services. The Lion Rangers tracked a group of four lions, including XPL-142, OPL-23, and OPL-24, from Torra to the Uniab riverbed. There three lions were fitted with GPS/satellite collars. Their movements are currently being monitored. With this operation complete the teams continued working in the area, successfully identifying and photographing five lions frequenting the farms of Torra Conservancy.

MEFT Game Capture vet Dr. Sandra Shikombo with immobilized desert-adapted lion.
Immobilized desert-adapted lioness.

Huab to the Ocean

Sunrise view from Slangpos, Torra Conservancy.

Team 2 ventured to the scenic Huab landscape, taking responsibility for surveying the massive area from De Riet in Torra Conservancy, all the way to the Skeleton Coast National Park. This area has been particularly hard-hit by drought in recent years, with the result that game numbers have diminished greatly. Nevertheless, the team identified the coastal-roaming lioness XPL-108 within the Huab riverbed. It was a relief to see the lioness apparently doing well in the hostile environment.

Southern Klip River

Uncollared male lion in Klip River area.

Team 4 continued the difficult task of surveying the far southern reaches of the desert-adapted lion range. Through the Sorris Sorris, Doro !Nawas, and Torra conservancies, into southern Klip River, the Lion Rangers covered extensive areas on foot, well into the hard-to-reach mountainous areas. Lions affiliated with the collared individuals NPL-42 and NPL-28 move through these areas and Team 4 spent the week carefully tracking them. Watch this virtual space for next week’s update to see their results!

Whisker pattern (vibrissae) of immobilized lion.

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