The King Has Spoken: nDzuti lions flee from their kill
Aug11

The King Has Spoken: nDzuti lions flee from their kill

Watching 4 sub-adult male lions gorging themselves on a buffalo carcass is a spectacular sighting in itself, but, as we always emphasise in nature: you can not predict what is going to happen. These guests were visiting nDzuti Safari Camp deep in the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve of Greater Kruger. Guided by owner Bruce Meeser, the guests were led right to the site where these big males were feeding. Perfect lighting and beautiful specimens made this a safari sighting to remember. The nDzuti lions are called the River Pride, named for their beautiful territory, which encompasses the Klaserie River. As the video shows, in one swift movement, all 4 of these big males bolt from the buffalo they are eating, clearly running from something. What do 4 big male lions run from, you might ask? The king of the jungle, that’s who! With an aggressive grumble and a stampede of heavy paws, these lions take to the bush, chased by what Bruce refers to as ‘the big boy’. It is in a lion’s nature to feed himself, and it is a known fact that if the dominant male of the pride wants to eat alone, he will. Often stealing carcasses from the rest of the pride and chasing other members of his pride off the kill, the dominant male ensures he gets the prime cut. If you listen carefully to Bruce’s audio in the video, you will hear he says that these males are “getting stronger and stronger together, but they are by no means as strong as the dominant lion”. A few moments later, this dominant lion appears on the scene, and it is clear the young males know their place. What an awesome example of nature at its best, and lions at their most primal. Take a look…...

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White lion cub seen at Singita Kruger Park
Jul14

White lion cub seen at Singita Kruger Park

The white lion gene, as rare as it is, has cropped up in the form of a white lion cub born in the Singita Concession of the Kruger National Park. Yesterday morning, on game drive at Singita Lebombo Lodge, this little snowball was spotted and photographed by wildlife photographer Nick du Plessis. Its tawny mother and 2 tawny siblings all looked in perfect happiness and health, basking in the morning sunlight in their chosen spot near the Mozambican border. The early life of any newborn lion is dangerous, and their mothers keep them hidden for the first 6 weeks of their lives, just to help protect them and build their strength before introducing them to the pride. This lioness looked very relaxed and was lying out in the open with her 3 perfect cubs who looked curious, but stayed close. The Timbavati Reserve in the Greater Kruger is known as the indigenous ground for wild white lions and there have been white lions born into tawny prides there for many years. Late last year, the Ross Pride in the neighbouring Klaserie Reserve bore a white cub, however, as lion lives go, it is assumed that the cub did not survive. This sighting is an example of the movement of lions and the dispersal of prides, which means the spread of the white lion gene. The Ross Pride of lions, which carries the white gene, has been a strong and dominating pride in the Klaserie for a number of years, but recently a coalition of 3 big males known as The Trilogy has split the pride. The previous dominant males have left the territory and all but 2 of the females have moved off. At some point these lions will settle and breed again, if they survive, and who knows where a tiny white lion cub could pop up! Watch this space for white lion updates…...

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Farewell to Rosh, Desert Lion Legend
Jul10

Farewell to Rosh, Desert Lion Legend

The issue of human-lion conflict is one of the biggest killers of lions in Africa today. It is a seemingly unending battle to establish an harmonious existence between us and them, and sadly, where Namibia’s unique desert lions live, this battle has resulted in the tragic death of one of the most significant male lions of the Skeleton Coast. Rosh, a name given to identify him, was collared by Dr Flip Stander and Desert Lion Conservation in 2010, and has since been monitored traversing through Damaraland and the Skeleton Coast. His GPS collar was attached in order to help Flip keep track of him, study his movements, obtain biometric data, and to assist in keeping him away from the Himba villages and coming into conflict with the people. Devastating news was reported by Lion Ranger Bertus Tjipombo recently, confirming fears that this beautiful 10-year-old desert-adapted male lion had been shot. Rosh belonged to an exceptional population of lions that has teetered on the brink of survival and due to the unfailing efforts of Desert Lion Conservation and its sponsors, has defied extinction and grown to a population of about 200 individuals. The male lions in this population are crucial to the genetic stability and growth of the prides of the Skeleton Coast and as it is, there are still too few males. The desert lions suffer a massive blow in an incident like this with the loss of such an iconic male. As reported by Bertus to TOSCO Chairman, Felix Vallat, Rosh was shot by Puros farmers in retaliation after the lion killed a cow. There is an overwhelming feeling of sadness surrounding the death of this lion, as it emphasises the distance we still need to go to overcome the issue of human-lion conflict.   Hallo Felix,   We had a terrible incident where we discovered that Rosh was shot to death.   Rosh was born in September 2004 at Uniab river and then move to Hoanib river where he spent time with the lionesses of the Floodplain and Okongue prides.   Mostly, Rosh covered the area around Gommatom river, Hoaruseb river, Oruhito, Giribes Plains, Kanamub and Okongue area. During his time in the Puros area, Rosh has killed in total about 6 cattle in the area.   We, as Puros conservancy Lion Rangers, are unhappy about the death of Rosh. We heard that Rosh killed 1 cow and the farmer’s horse between Puros and Tomakas, which resulted in his death.   The farmer found the lion eating the cow on the main road from Tomakas to Puros and this is how we found out. Then he proceeded...

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Ross Pride Female Lions Spotted on Safari
Jun21

Ross Pride Female Lions Spotted on Safari

There’s nothing like waking up early on an extra cold morning in the African bush and breathing out steam after every sip of coffee, knowing that you’re about to go on a game drive. When the walkie-talkie radio goes off loudly and an excited voice announces, “Attention all stations: we’ve got 2 mafazi ngala”, you know you’ve got to drain that coffee and jump onto the game vehicle because you’ve got lions to see! This was the way my day started at nThambo Tree Camp this morning. The Klaserie Private Nature Reserve is abuzz with wildlife activity and we have had sightings of moms, dads and baby elephants almost every day. The birdlife creates a raucous noise every morning and the lions have been heard every night. This morning’s radio report caught our attention and Carolynne and I jumped aboard Airforce 1 (our filming-friendly Land Rover) with Kevin MacLaughlin in charge. We arrived at Jason’s Dam and there they were, defrosting in the sunlight. Mila and Lisa, these lionesses, are a part of the Ross Pride, which is a pride of lions famously known in this area. Guides at nThambo Tree Camp and Africa on Foot have spent a lot of time introducing their guests to the local pride, and these girls were very comfortable with the vehicles. We had such a perfect sighting of these beautiful, relaxed females and just watched them dip in and out of their morning snooze. The only real movement was Mila’s lazy stroll to the shady patch of grass, which is fairly typical of a lion sighting such as this. The male lions we are looking out for is called The Trilogy – 3 big boys that have been hanging out with these lionesses. They couldn’t have been far off, but it seems they were leaving the ladies in peace today. For us lucky ones in the Klaserie, our resident lions are not far away. And with a herd of elephants, some giraffes, and an impala kill all spotted on the way back to camp, we know we are in for a treat. Watch this space… Images by Chloe...

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4 Days in the Damaraland Desert
May06

4 Days in the Damaraland Desert

The utter vastness of this deserted land is almost unfathomable, and putting it ‘in a nutshell’ is no easy task. It’s not teeming with game, therefore it is not teeming with tourists, and the very personal experience one has with this wonderful part of Namibia is what makes Damaraland so special. It was exciting to encounter zebra, springbok and oryx. This meant lion food! And it meant there was sufficient water and grass to sustain a well-adapted herbivore population. Just inside of the Palmwag concession, where the stone desert started becoming a shimmering plain of tall, white grass, a small harem of Hartmann’s Mountain zebra tentatively stopped and stared at our duo of Land Cruisers. After a (very) long drive, finally drinking in the rain-fed version of the Damaraland desert was a relief. Spotting our old striped friends was a stirring experience and we all whipped out our cameras to capture the black and white contrast against the layers of silky bushman grass. And it’s lucky we did, as the rest of the zebra we spotted (waaay up on the slopes) ran for hills at the mere rumble of the vehicles. This is a truly wild land. The purpose of our visit was to seek out Dr Flip Stander, lion expert and authentic man of the veld. The last time this Namibian native was in Windhoek was 8 years ago (bar a short stint for a Desert Lion conference last year), and his intention is to avoid city life as much as possible. For the most part, his fuel is transported out to him and his sleeping and eating patterns rely very much on the lions’ activity. Flip’s dedication to the lions began when he steered them from extinction in the early 90s, while today he focuses on keeping the growing population of now nearly 200 lions away from the unfenced communities and their livestock. Satellite collars and Lion Rangers play vital roles in preventing the human-lion conflict in north-west Namibia. It was an absolute treat to see the notorious lions in their enormous ranges, and to see Flip in action.   Each night we set up camp in the dark, after having spent the whole day following Flip’s satellite readings and keeping our eyes peeled for lions. On night 2 out of 3, we discovered a beautiful male and after watching him lap up the last of the sunlight before slinking off into the shadows, we settled in a dry riverbed, dug a hole and built a fire. On the third night, we had to search for a spot to camp in the pitch darkness after we spent ages watching 3...

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Rock n Roll in the desert to keep the lions away
Apr15

Rock n Roll in the desert to keep the lions away

  The Desert Lion Conservation programme has taken innovative steps to prevent human-lion conflict in the Kunene region and Skeleton Coast of Namibia. When fireworks didn’t seem to do the trick, Dr Stander and his team blared some AC/DC and Deep Purple at 4500 Watts from a hidden area in the vegetation. The unnatural, high pitched sound certainly got the problematic lion moving, and it became obvious that the Terrace Male (Xpl-68) was not a fan, and he swiftly moved away. This drastic and intrusive measure was taken after the lion has been monitored closely, since he was born in 2007; his movements tracked by Dr Flip Stander and recorded on the Desert Lion website. The Terrace Male has wandered close to the Purros Conservancy on a number of occasions and keeps putting himself in danger of conflict with the people. He is a predator and is attracted to the easily targeted donkeys and cows, which gives the people of Purros a reason to want him dead. This male is a vital member contributing to the growth of the population of Desert Lions, and it is important that he does not get into conflict with the local people, as he will get killed as they try and protect themselves. Over the last week, the Terrace Male has been darted and relocated by Dr Stander and his Lion Ranger team after he was too close to Purros. Again, he was monitored via his satellite collar as he moved closer, yet again, and the Desert Lion team attempted to scare him away using fireworks. Alas, the lion returned, and this time the use of very loud rock n roll music is what got him running in the opposite direction.     Below are the updates posted on Desert Lion’s Facebook page, describing the job of tracking and protecting this persistent desert lion: Xpl-68 was born during Nov 2007 in the Agab River. He moved to the Huab River in 2010/2011. He is best known for his long journeys (during a 40-hour period he covered a distance of 130.7 km in 2012), and famous for his journey into Angola in 2013. Currently he is in danger due to his close proximity to Purros. Fingers crossed that he can be driven away from the settlement.   8 Apr 2014. The successful relocation of “Terrace Male”. Transporting the immobilized “Terrace Male” (Xpl-68) in the new Land Cruiser was a great success. The specially designed vehicle with all its extra equipment and the OME suspension made for a smooth and effective operation. The lion was put on a Ringer-lactate drip and his heart rate, respiration...

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Namibia’s Lion Rangers send an update from the Skeleton Coast
Apr03

Namibia’s Lion Rangers send an update from the Skeleton Coast

We’ve mentioned in previous blogs how honoured we are to be affiliated with the Desert Lion Conservation (DLC) project in Namibia, and when we receive updates from the field, we are reminded of just how important our sponsorship of the project is. Lion Rangers – a select few men from the affected conservancies in northwestern Namibia – are employed by TOSCO Trust and DLC to patrol and protect their communities from conflict with lions. Human-lion conflict is one of the biggest problems facing the survival of lions today, and as the population of people in Africa grows, the less space there is for humans and predators to co-exist, and predators end up killing farmers’ precious livestock. The farmers’ retaliation of these attacks is what is destroying the lion population in many rural areas of Africa. It is vital that this conflict is prevented in order to spare both the lions’ lives and the welfare of the local communities. The Lion Ranger programme is not without its challenges and has not prevented the killing of either livestock or lions altogether, but the improvement is vast and the value being placed on the lions is the most important change of all. Bertus Tjipombo is one of the Lion Rangers working and living in the remote Kunene region of Namibia, and here is his most recent update – a sign of growth and success in the programme, and for the first time, no attacks or deaths reported. Namibians are thankful for the recent relief of rain that has filled the rivers and watered their land, and there is also speculation that the provision of more water for all will keep the wild animals and the domestic animals to themselves! Dear Felix, Hope you are well. We had some few drops of rain here in Purros so i hope there will be less animal conflict. We have been to Wereldsend for a workshop based on lions’ behaviour and how to track them. Workshop was attended by four different conservancies whereby people shared ideas and problems caused by lions. In their respective conservancies, the workshop was facilitated by Dr Flip Stander and Russel and they shared very helpful knowledge with us. We received three binoculars, which were divided into three conservancies. Dr Flip said that this workshop was level 1 and the second one will be practical and dates are yet to be confirmed. About lion movement, the Terrace male is in the Skeleton Coast Park and Rosh is down the Hoaruseb River, while the lionesses are in Okongwe area. Looking forward for any information you want to share it with us, have a great day ahead. Thanks and Regards...

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