Response at White Lady

White Lady Painting at Brandberg.

Even desert-adapted lions like to take in Namibia’s iconic tourism destinations. Last week a group of three desert-adapted lions made themselves comfortable directly in front of Namibia’s famous ‘White Lady’ painting at Brandberg West. The groups’ presence temporarily closed the hiking trail, just as the busiest tourist weekend in more than a year was getting under way.

Tracking lions on foot near the White Lady paintings.

The Lion Ranger research team was working nearby and responded to the lions’ presence. Foot tracking back into the area showed the lions were maintaining a safe distance from staff accommodation.

Multiple conversations with staff from the White Lady trail, nearby lodge, and among herders revealed the lions had been killing zebra in the area in previous weeks and had not been taking livestock.

Desert-adapted lioness stalking prey in Kunene. Photo: O. Adolph

Extensive contact with the nearby herders revealed that very few livestock were present in the area – primarily in the nearby ‘Ugab swamp’ near De Rust. Nevertheless, true CBNRM means working closely with community members to ensure they are informed and comfortable with the lions’ presence and that their input is valued when conflict prevention and mitigation activities are undertaken. Additionally, community members can be an invaluable source of information regarding typical behavior of different lion groups, as was the case near White Lady.

Desert-adapted lioness near ephemeral riverbed. Photo: O. Adolph.

Herders from the area demonstrated a keen knowledge of this group of lions movements along paths in the mountains and nearby riverbeds. This information was central to maximizing the effectiveness of Lion Ranger actions, including placing ourselves between the lions and villagers along frequently used lion foot paths. Working throughout the night to monitor the lions and keep villagers informed resulted in the lions moving past the village to the mountains north and west. They were last seen headed back to the lower Ugab in the direction of the Skeleton Coast park. The farmers near White Lady are commended for their assistance and willingness to engage the Lion Rangers in helping limit human-lion conflict. Management and staff at the White Lady Lodge are thanked for supporting lion conservation in the area.

Night-vision photo of desert-adapted lioness. Photo: P. Stander.

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