Erratic rainfalls are bringing a new set of challenges to desert-adapted lion monitoring in northwest Namibia. Over recent weeks the Lion Rangers, MEFT staff, and IRDNC Human-Wildlife Support Teams have been working round the clock to keep tabs on Kunene lions and limit human-lion conflict. This has proven particularly challenging in areas shared by farmers, their livestock, and lions where other prey is low.
At the request of MEFT the Lion Rangers performed a quick assessment of lion presence in Anabeb Conservancy near the Mbakondja area and in Sesfontein Conservancy near Oruvao, which led us into the Palmwag Concession. Near Mbakondja one uncollared group of females has been making their presence known near farmers’ livestock, and another, uncollared, group has been reported coming out of the mountains of adjoining Palmwag Concession by farmers.
After tracking these groups near Mbakondja and providing feedback to MEFT, the Lion Rangers moved into Sesfontein Conservancy, first concentrating on lion movements around the Oruvao waterhole. Tracking revealed a group of three moving through the area in previous days up into the nearby mountains.
Further movement through the area revealed small groups of springbok and zebra, and even a few loan oryx eating the recently sprouted grasses.
By the end of our monitoring clouds were gathering further westward, portending small showers to further sustain wildlife in the area. This is a good sign for prey species, lions, and other carnivores, as the patchy rain has caused some problems for wildlife and farmers. As the rainy season is drawing to a close we are hopeful there is enough water and grass to sustain prey (and thus predators) for the months to come. This will help minimize human-lion conflict.