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johnweir

"DR. STANDER I PRESUME?", (WANDERINGS IN NAMIBIA), JULY 2018.

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johnweir

@Kitsafari, Glad you enjoyed the Lion images it was certainly a good sighting. What great news about 'Charlie' thank you so much for letting me know, she is still doing well. She is one of those animals I will find very difficult to forget, although I should be able to hopefully follow her progress in the months and years ahead. Emsie Verwey you met, gave us a lecture on her work with Brown Hyaena when we were in camp, although we saw none on this trip, we did however see two last year.

The film sounds fascinating, can't wait to find out more. You must visit the area around the Hoanib River I know you would enjoy it, we certainly will return at some stage in the future and possibly explore further afield. Thank you again for taking the time, when you clearly have other considerations on your mind, to update me and others on the progress of a very special young Lioness.  

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Amylovescritters

Fantastic report. Well, yet another African country added to my “next safari “ list... What an honor meeting Dr. Stander, a living legend and hero to any conservationist. Your images are breathtaking. 

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CDL111

As you say, why was the pump housing not positioned within the trees is difficult to understand. It looks from the size of the elephants tusks that poachers have/still are killing the biggest tusk elephants. Nice photograph of the red hartebeest and the Greater Kudu.

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xelas
3 hours ago, CDL111 said:

As you say, why was the pump housing not positioned within the trees is difficult to understand.

 

Why would it have to be positioned there, or elsewhere? The pump housing is there to provide its main job, i.e. pumping the water into the basin for wildlife to use it. We, visitors and observers, are just side effects of that fact.

Honestly, I have never had a problem with a water pump on any of our photos. Never ever think of them as "unwanted object", as long as its action provides many "wanted subjects" to that location.

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ForWildlife
7 hours ago, CDL111 said:

As you say, why was the pump housing not positioned within the trees is difficult to understand. It looks from the size of the elephants tusks that poachers have/still are killing the biggest tusk elephants. Nice photograph of the red hartebeest and the Greater Kudu.

 

 

Maybe the pump house was between trees when it was build, but since they have died. Water points attract animals, which causes animal densities to get much higher than the vegetation can sustain directly around the water point, and bushes and trees slowly get killed/die in an increasing  circle around the waterpoint.

 

Tusk size depends on a lot of things. Minerals in the food to grow the tusks, environment which causes the tusks the wear and genetics. Etosha elephants always seem to have relatively short and thick tusks. I think that has more to do with wear than anything else. In some of the photos you can clearly see the wear and tear on the tusks.

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Antee
On 10/29/2018 at 7:36 PM, xelas said:

 

Why would it have to be positioned there, or elsewhere? The pump housing is there to provide its main job, i.e. pumping the water into the basin for wildlife to use it. We, visitors and observers, are just side effects of that fact.

Honestly, I have never had a problem with a water pump on any of our photos. Never ever think of them as "unwanted object", as long as its action provides many "wanted subjects" to that location.

 

No, we (visitors and observers) are definitely not "just a side effect" as we are the ones who keep the parks (and pumps) going with our money. Without visitors, without money there shouldn´t be any pumps either and of course no protected areas like Etosha. 

 

Of course it is annoying with an ugly pump in the middle of everything. 

But photoshop can do miracles :) 

Edited by Antee

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ForWildlife

Without visitors, without money there shouldn´t be any pumps either and of course no protected areas like Etosha.

 

There shouldn't be pumps if there weren't visitors? We shouldn't care about animals if we can't view them? No tourism can raise enough money to properly manage wildlife areas, not photographic tourism, not hunting tourism, the income they generate is just a drop on a hot plate. But somehow, whether it is lodge owners/operators, guides, hunting operators/concession holders/guides, hunting clients or photographic clients, they feel entitled to the wildlife in the park they use/visit.

 

As mentioned in the recent paper about the deficit in money to manage protected areas in Africa about $1,200 per sq km is needed. Little of what tourists spend actually ends up towards park management, usually only a park entrance fee and a concession lease, with hunting there is the addition of trophy fees (although they might be split between parks management, community resource boards and chiefs). The places where it works are either small, or heavily fenced and often both.

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Antee
On 10/31/2018 at 2:30 PM, ForWildlife said:

 

 

 

There shouldn't be pumps if there weren't visitors? We shouldn't care about animals if we can't view them? No tourism can raise enough money to properly manage wildlife areas, not photographic tourism, not hunting tourism, the income they generate is just a drop on a hot plate. But somehow, whether it is lodge owners/operators, guides, hunting operators/concession holders/guides, hunting clients or photographic clients, they feel entitled to the wildlife in the park they use/visit.

 

As mentioned in the recent paper about the deficit in money to manage protected areas in Africa about $1,200 per sq km is needed. Little of what tourists spend actually ends up towards park management, usually only a park entrance fee and a concession lease, with hunting there is the addition of trophy fees (although they might be split between parks management, community resource boards and chiefs). The places where it works are either small, or heavily fenced and often both.


But the fact is that: no visitors = no money = which means no/bad protected areas = no/bad pumps

 

Everything is connected. 

No, we are just not a side effect. An absurd assertion. 

 

In a perfect world we would be "just a side effect" but that is not how it works when it comes to protected areas. Especially in Africa.

 

If no one comes to Etosha it will be farmers land very quick. Or they do it to hunting concession with huge money involved. Or it will be a poachers paradise. Maybe all 3 of them.

 

This is the sad reality. To pretend something else is just foolish I think. We have so many examples during the last decades of what is happening to "protected areas" who is off the radar of income money. 

 

Of course you can have pumps and huge protected lands without visitors and no income, But that is very rare and not standard and it will come with a price. 

That it is very bad protected.... 

Just look at very rarely visited areas in Selous. It´s a disaster. Look at other "reserves" around the world who is not drawing attention from the big crowds. Big, big problems everywhere. 

 

Zakouma in Chad used to be like this. Today visitors start to come back and the whole ecosystem and the park is in an upward spiral. 

 

I do know one country who has properly protected areas without visitors and that is China. But obviously they can afford it these days :) 

They have other problems though regarding wildlife... 

 

You are wrong, of course can tourism money protect areas until 100%. It happens all the time. All the private concessions around Masai Mara, In Botswana, Namibia, more or less everywhere is 100% dependent on tourism money. 

 

You are wrong again. These areas are neither small, heavily fenced or both. They are one of the true wilderness areas still around.

Edited by Antee

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Game Warden

Maybe take this developing and interesting discussion into a new topic so it is not lost in a trip report @Antee and @ForWildlife?

 

Thanks, Matt

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johnweir

In my last posting #49, I merely suggested that I personally think some of the fixtures and fittings in the park that support a tremendous wealth and diversity of wildlife could have been installed in a more discrete manner at very little cost. Not a big deal, others think differently fine, not an issue. Of course I understand that without pumped waterholes most of the wildlife in the area would not exist. It is worth noting that several of the waterholes in the park are however completely natural. Anyway my statement appears to have been the catalyst for my thread to be somewhat hijacked, obviously not intentionally, but what in essence was meant to be my own views and observations about three days spent in Etosha was beginning to look like something completely different. Thus in my opinion significantly detracting from the purpose and content of the original trip report. Thank you @Game Warden for recognising this and moving the debate elsewhere, incidentally for what it is worth I tend to side with @Antee. I did however feel that my trip report was getting lost in this 'developing and interesting discussion' not vice versa. Now back to the report which may contain some observations that others may disagree with but at least it may support another debate which can be continued elsewhere. 

 

Staying at Mushara Lodge for 2 nights gave us the opportunity for a further full day in the park and to enjoy some decent meals after the poor quality of food at the NWR Lodge at Okaukeujo. Mushara Lodge is situated about 2 miles south of the Von Lindequist Gate (Eastern Gate. C38) and is very comfortable, it should be noted it is not like Ongava (western gate) which has it's own wildlife reserve, it is purely a lodge although birding is good in the grounds and we did see briefly an unidentified antelope. We arrived at the park gates at 08.30 and got a 24 hour permit. (Current rate N$170 per day). The paperwork then had to be taken to Namutoni (Park eastern HQ) for payment to be made, entering from the western gate payment should be made at Okaukeujo. This process is a complete waste of time, why payment cannot be made at the appropriate entry gate completely escapes me. Certainly at Okaukeujo the queues and congestion in the administration area were unnecessary and preventable. The staff generally dealing with both clients wishing to pay for permits and secure accommodation appeared to be completely lacking in interpersonal skills and were severely hampered by a dysfunctional computer system. Frustrations were running high particularly at Okaukeujo, clients, guides and drivers were all to say the least less than happy. A guide from South Africa I was talking to for 40 minutes in the long queue said it had been like this for years. At least I have a guide sorted now for any future trip to South Africa!

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At Namutoni, whilst my wife was sorting the permit (her turn) I had a wander around the grounds of the facility, and located a large band of Banded Mongooses which have a burrow under a large tree next to the admin block. The band must have comprised of at least 50 individuals of all ages.

The plan for the day was to spend more time in the eastern part of the park in the morning, take lunch at Mushara and then spend some time north of Namutoni in the afternoon. From our experiences some of the best wildlife sightings are away from the C38, which runs through the park parallel to the main Etosha Pan. The various drives  and loop roads that head away from the main pan, i.e. Rhino Drive etc, which are clearly marked on the tourist map should definitely be explored, we managed a significant number of them. During our 3 days in the park we visited 28 waterholes, at several we parked up for at least 30 minutes.

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Black-faced Impala (sometimes called  the Angolan Impala) taken near Batia Waterhole which was dry. First time visitors to Namibia should note that they are a different species to those seen in significant parts of Southern and Eastern Africa.

 

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A small herd (7) of Red Hartebeest were seen near the main pan close to the C38, about 20 miles west of Namutoni. This individual looks as though it may have had a lucky escape from a predator as indicated by the possible claw marks on the flank. They are not usually on the menu for Lions as they tend to be too quick,  but are known to have been taken successfully occasionally. 

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Driving back to the lodge we followed this herd of Springbok along the C38 for about 1/2 mile, it tends to be sheep in Scotland.

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Angolan Giraffe about a mile from the park gates, a common species in the park.

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Back at Mushara for lunch this Hornbill presented itself on the lawn. I would ask the bird specialists please to have a look at this image, I think it is a Southern Red-billed Hornbill, could it however be a Damara Red-billed Hornbill? How do you distinguish between the two?

 

Re-entering the park before heading north we decided to take a left and visit the Klein Namutoni Waterhole and drive the short 3 mile, Dik-Dik drive. This turned out to be an inspired decision. Whilst trying to photograph an unidentified bird in a tree my wife turned to me and said "There is a Leopard under that bush on the opposite side of the road".

I could just about make it out, however it was immediately up and wandered away into thick bush. Whilst there is lots of ideal Leopard habitat in the park particularly between Halali and Namutoni which I am sure will support lots of Leopards, sightings I don't think are that common.

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As first sighted, the Leopard is resting under a bush, less than ideal conditions for photography. 

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The Leopard immediately decides to leave,

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and heads for thick bush and is gone in seconds. This was one sighting we never expected and I was pleased to get any sort of images at all.

 

Heading north we drove around Fischer's Pan which looked like ideal Cheetah habitat but with no look, it is one regret that in 2 visits to Namibia we have never seen a truly free roaming Cheetah, other than in the unnatural surroundings of a re-habilitation reserve, a great excuse to go back at some stage.vDriving round the pan we got some reasonable opportunities to photograph some wonderful birds.

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Kori Bustard, very common throughout the park.

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Crimson-breasted Shrike.

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Black-shouldered Kite.

 

Just before heading north to Tsumcor Waterhole another Lioness was spotted in long grass with yet another Zebra kill, one cub at least was visible in the long grass, I am reasonably sure at least one more Lioness was at the kill. We certainly had seen far more Lions in Etosha than I expected. You don't want to be a Zebra in Etosha.

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Groot and Klein Okevi Waterholes only produced a few female Greater Kudu so as the light was fading we made a quick dash to our last waterhole, Tsumcor and here we were rewarded with a small herd of Elephants.

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A general view of Tsumcor Waterhole. (Not natural).

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Two youngsters at the waterhole.

We then headed back to Mushara after a great day in the park, the Leopard sighting had to be the highlight.

 

Then just as we left the gate, this!  (details next posting).

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Next, (final posting) Erongo and trip overview. 

 

 

 

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CDL111

@johnweir, I think you are correct with regard to the Southern red-billed Hornbill. The Damara Hornbill (Sasol Birds of South Africa) has an almost totally white head and dark eye are diagnostic. Black on the head is confined to a dark crown stripe extending to the nape. 

Looking forward to your next posting when you can let us know what this animal is. 

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johnweir

 

Apologies to those who have been following this report for the long delay in completing it, but unfortunately I have had other more pressing considerations than Safaritalk in recent weeks which are now thankfully resolved and will give me time to also read in detail some of the fantastic reports that have appeared recently.

The final image on posting #60 is of a bovid species I am not familiar with at all the Bontebok, this particular species has never been found in this region and is hundreds of miles from it's natural historic range. It would appear to be an escapee from Mokuti Etosha Lodge. Mokuti Lodge has a gate adjacent to the Von Lindequist Gate (Eastern Etosha Gate) and has a small imported herd of these beautiful antelope on their property. Obviously it hasn't been included in any of my sightings data, but it would interest me to observe this species at some stage in the future in South Africa.  These images were taken fractional outside the National Park.  

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We left Etosha with some sadness, we had thoroughly enjoyed our 3 days in the park, it had more than exceeded our expectations and most of our concerns had not been realised. Ethical concerns regarding artificial waterholes?, fences etc. have already been adequately covered earlier in this report and elsewhere. The roads within the park are generally good and most areas could be accessed in a standard car with care, we thoroughly enjoyed the self drive experience and will certainly do it again. I did find it difficult at times to drive and take images, several opportunities were consequently lost. I personally missed not having a guide with us that could help us with bird identification, hence I am sure numerous good bird sightings went unrecorded. As already mentioned it is vital to fully explore the park particularly those areas away from the main pan. The Etosha Pan only accounts for about 21% of the total area of the park.

Our total mammal species/ssp count for our 3 days in the park was 25 which compares very favourably with our experiences at other National Parks we have visited for 3 nights at the same time of year. (Some comparators, OKAVANGO DELTA. BOTSWANA. 22, 21,18, NORTH SERENGETI 26, NGORONGORO 15, TARANGIRE 28, 32, SOUTH SERENGETI 22, RUAHA 29). We visited at the start of the high season and were amazed that at sightings we were often the only vehicle there or one of only a few, certainly it was less congested than some of the parks listed above. I am not sure how well the parks' facilities are managed, poor food in the resorts has already been mentioned and a workforce which would benefit from training on how to interact in a more welcoming manner with visitors . Some of the rangers those that come into contact with visitors need to be able to talk in a more authoritative manner with their guests about the environment in which they work. (i.e. night drive , quality of answers to basic questions was poor). The secure toilet facilities dotted around the park (clearly marked on the park guide map) should be demolished and removed. Three out of five visited were in a very poor state and were beyond repair, the fencing was down and they created a very bad impression of the park, those at the main centres were fine. These points are all minor criticisms and could easily be addressed with a modest increase in the daily admission cost which possibly is too low to ensure adequate funding for the park's continued development.

 

Leaving Mushara we headed south for 2 nights at Erongo Wilderness Lodge a drive of 386 kms, which took us about 5.5 hours with a stop at Otjiwarongo for fuel and refreshments. Just as we left Mushara in a tree by the side of the C38, this group of White-backed Vultures was observed, we had not seen many Vultures on this trip.

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When we arranged this trip I was quite excited about spending a few days at Erongo as it is one of the few locations in Namibia which has confirmed sightings of the Black Mongoose. (Galerella nigrata). To many it is just a black morph of the Slender Mongoose, it was however described as a specific species as early as 1928, this having been largely ignored until recently when two papers appeared suggesting full species status. (Behavioural ecology of the black mongoose (Galerella nigrata) in Namibia. 2008. Rathburn G. B. and Cowley T.E. Mammalian Biology 73 444-450, Introducing 'The Black Mongoose'. Sara Tromp. Univ. of Queensland). Anyway along with the desert adapted Lions this was a target species for the trip.

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On the way in to the lodge we saw plenty of Rock Hyrax, this one was carrying a heavy load!, the fact that the whole area was littered with boulders of all sizes was good as the Black Mongoose is known to have a liking for this type of habitat. On arrival at the lodge I was very disappointed to learn that the Black Mongoose had been seen around the lodge but not for several months. The lodge proved to be very comfortable and the food was excellent, but once again as at the start of the trip the wind had picked up considerably and did impact the following day on bird sightings. Access to the lodge was quite interesting and it was the only time that we engaged the low ratio gears on our trip.

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This was the view from our tent which was nestled amongst some huge boulders, fantastic habitat which was devoid of any large mammals, Rhinoceros were roaming free here as late as the 1970's. The local mineral water supplier is supporting the efforts for a Black Rhinoceros resettlement programme in the Erongo Mountain Nature Conservancy. Each bottle of mineral water sold makes a small but valuable contribution to this endeavour, hence we drank a lot of water whilst in the area. I also became acquainted with Namibian red wine whilst at this lodge, it was very fruity and of a very high quality. ( Not easy to locate in the U.K.).

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Rosey-faced Lovebirds in large flocks were very common around the lodge.

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 As were the African Red-eyed Bulbul.

The following day I walked every trail available around the lodge starting at  06.30 in an attempt to get a Black Mongoose sighting but despite my efforts I was not to be successful but did walk in some beautiful countryside with some remarkable geological features.

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It never fails to amaze us that trees and shrubs are capable of growing just about anywhere.

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Namibian Rock Agama were commonly seen throughout this trip , this is a female.

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This is a male of the same species.

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Whilst searching for the Mongoose, loud squealing noises reverberated around the steep canyon walls, eventually I located this Rock Hyrax high up on a ledge it was the guilty party. The image was taken from a considerable distance I am amazed there is any clarity at all. Note the typical tell tale Hyrax urine deposits on the rock.

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Back at the lodge this Rock Hyrax was behaving like a Tree Hyrax.

Just outside the dining area there was a small pool which trickled down a large rock, this proved very attractive to birds.

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After breakfast the following day we started the long trip back to Scotland, the image below was taken from the dining area window early morning as the sun started to rise. Erongo proved to be a nice place to unwind before the trip home and would have been a good lodge for birding had it not been so windy,  it is however not a lodge at which you will observe many (if any) mammals. 

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The trip was a huge success, Namibia despite its contradictions is a wonderful wildlife destination. We both particularly enjoyed Hoanib and Etosha at last was successfully explored and it proved to be a wonderful experience. Regrets, no Cheetah or Black Mongoose. 

Next: Dzangha Sangha (Central African Republic), possibly early to mid 2019.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed so positively to this trip report.

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Peter Connan

Thank you for writing (and completing) it. It was a very enjoyable and informative read!

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xelas

Same here. Interesting to read about Black Mongoose; we have stayed twice at nearby Ameib Ranch but have no clue about it. Anyway, only hyrax sightings for us.

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CDL111

Waited patiently to find out what the antelope was as I could not find it in any of our books. Thank you for a very illuminating report. As the wife and l are retired we take the photographs of the birds and also buy an appropriate bird book and then put the names to the birds. 

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penolva
Posted (edited)
On 9/25/2018 at 11:20 PM, johnweir said:

Having spent time with the herd of true desert adapted Elephants we decided to head back to camp for a late lunch and then go out early for our evening drive and revisit the Oryx kill site and hopefully see the two Lions again  We had already decided that the following day we would go on the full day trip to the coast. Heading back to camp following the riverbed it passed through a narrow section and members of the Elephant herd we had seen earlier were blocking our way forward, and appeared distressed as we approached.  The image below was taken during our approach.

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Michael (our guide) therefore drove over the mound to the left into a parallel channel and immediately we became aware that another vehicle was heading towards us, it was the unmistakeable vehicle used by Dr. Philip Stander from which he delivers his outstanding work to conserve the Desert Lion. He virtually lives full time in the vehicle. As he approached Michael waved, he had done some dart and collar work with Philip in the past. The battered enigmatic Land Cruiser ground to a halt and out jumped , 'The Doctor'. We talked to him for about 15 minutes before he excused himself as he was on his way to hopefully resolve a Human-Lion conflict situation which had developed overnight. He was very interested in how the World Cup was developing, clearly an England supporter. I was delighted to get some time to speak with him and managed to avoid uttering the immortal words 'Dr. Stander I presume?', although I was tempted. It was amazing to see his field notes written on his arms and legs, they would be transferred at some stage to his extensive data base and records. There can be little doubt that without the fantastic work of he has done over the last 17+ years, the Desert Lions of Namibia would now be extinct.

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This encounter made our trip. 'The Doctor" was extremely easy to talk to and the main points from our short conversation were as follows:

The long term future of the Desert Lions he felt very much lies in wildlife tourism. Some good had come out of the deaths of 'The 5 Musketeers', the government had now become far more focused and committed to resolving Human-Lion Conflict in order to prevent unnecessary Lion deaths. Xpl-69 was in excellent condition and that I should not expect similar body condition to that found on savannah Lions. 'Charlie' now she was back with her 'Aunt' would have every chance of reaching adulthood, despite my concerns about her poor body condition she had already shown significant signs of weight gain, and finally that he was very optimistic about the future of Desert Lions. Then as quickly as he appeared he was off in a cloud of dust. Some man.

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As we continued on our way back to camp this baby Chacma Baboon was spotted in a tree. it seemed very strange in this desert environment.5H1A3486.jpg.864bb488b039dbeee811ab2233dd9166.jpg

Another Angolan Giraffe with her youngster, it was the first time we had ever seen a Giraffe sat down.

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Further up the riverbed we came across one of the two male Elephants that serve the herd we had seen earlier. This is 'Oliver' he was born in 1996, he is not the dominant male.

 

After lunch we attended a lecture in camp given by Emsie Verwey (Philip's partner) who is doing field work on the Brown Hyena. It was very interesting and included some wonderful images. We talked briefly about the devastating effect the deaths of the 5 young Lions must have had on Philip, which it did, but that he was resilient and thank goodness had the strength of mind and body to continue his life's work.

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We couldn't resist going back for one last time, they were still there and still sleeping. A day later they were seen heading for the mountains. 

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Xpl-69 momentarily decided to get up  but then decided to sit down again. As I have already mentioned she may look frail but is indeed a formidable hunter.

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As seen for the last time.

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The last sighting of 'Charlie', good luck. We will monitor her progress in the years ahead.

Just as we left the lions an antelope was spotted close by it was a Kalahari Steenbok.

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On seeing us it promptly sat down.

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The image below reflects the typical precipitous nature of the river banks as highlighted by so many documentaries particularly when flash floods occur and the banks and the vegetation collapse into the violent flow of the river. March/April of this year saw such conditions. The Hoanib River nearly reached the sea.

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Once inside the riverbed we quickly located a male Elephant, it was 'Oliver' again, he was feeding and then climbed up a shallow bank into the dunes.

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The great thing about this location is that you see familiar safari animals in unfamiliar surroundings, which we found fascinating and very interesting and it made a change from our usual savannah habitats. 

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Eventually he returned to the riverbed,

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and vanished into the distance. We had a sundowner and (I hardly dare mention this because I'm always complaining about people's lack of capacity to disconnect from the modern world), returned to camp to watch the World Cup on TV with the staff in their canteen. We had our meal with them and then had several beers, the result wasn't too good however. It was an  evening we will never forget they were great company, at breakfast very early the following morning , the rest of the guests in camp were amazed.

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Coast trip, next.

 

  

Congratulations on not only seeing the lions but meeting the great man himself. You may have read my trip report when we drove the area with Caesar Zandberg on a camping trip. If you want to explore more of the area I can highly recommend Caesar and his 'adventure trips". We had an amazing time and saw the camp you stayed at when we were driving the Hoanib river bed area. Here is a photograph of and elephant named 'Charlie' showing his reaching skills. Did anyone mention an elephant of that name? I know friends saw him last year when they were staying at the same camp as you did. Pen

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Edited by penolva

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johnweir

@penolva, thanks for taking the time to read my report and post your own wonderful image.That image is something, it is almost like a painting. I like the Gazelle in the background as well. I don't think we saw Charlie the Elephant but wish we had. Will definitely return to the area specifically to try for more Lion sightings at some stage, so would consider using the guide you recommend. In fact I am going to try to locate his website now and keep his address for future use. If I can't find him I will send you a PM. Thanks again.

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penolva
14 hours ago, johnweir said:

@penolva, thanks for taking the time to read my report and post your own wonderful image.That image is something, it is almost like a painting. I like the Gazelle in the background as well. I don't think we saw Charlie the Elephant but wish we had. Will definitely return to the area specifically to try for more Lion sightings at some stage, so would consider using the guide you recommend. In fact I am going to try to locate his website now and keep his address for future use. If I can't find him I will send you a PM. Thanks again.

Please don't hesitate to ask any questions you may have. Pen

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gatoratlarge

Wow!  Incredible!!! I've been taking some time to read TR's that I had somehow missed before----this one is most excellent!  I stayed in the Wilderness Safari Camp at Skeleton Coast years ago (2001? if google photo time stamps can be trusted----I had no idea it had burned down).  The first morning we set out, there was an oryx kill in the river bed and the lions were present however they were hidden in the dense scrub.  Our guides got out of the vehicle and scaled the rocky hillside and while they could see the lions, we never were able to get in position to see them...footprints is all we got :( But really we were quite thrilled to be so close...the National Geographic photos of the male lion feeding on a whale carcass just fascinated me as well as the elephants sliding down the dunes to water!  Was that in the 1980s or 1990s? 

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We did encounter desert adapted elephants, giraffe, oryx, jackals, springbok -- I count it one of the most beautiful and fascinating places I've ever been on safari....the fact anything of any size can eek out an existence in that harsh environment is miraculous!  We stayed at what was called Palmwag Rhino Camp afterwards and saw desert rhino as well.  After reading your report, I'm itching to go back! 

 

And to meet such a legendary conservationist on his "rounds" is icing on the cake!  I'll never forget spending time with Andrea Turkalo in CAR  by chance was such a thrill--- to be in the presence of greatness or at least someone so dedicated makes a visit so rich.  Thanks so much for sharing your safari!  Here's a few pics from long ago:

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how can a lion or elephant "hide" in the desert --- it gets dense in the river beds...

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johnweir

@gatoratlarge, thank you for taking time to read in detail my report(s) on Namibia. Your excellent images and thoughts from 2001 certainly make a very positive and historical contribution to the thread, I am delighted you posted them. Meeting 'Flip' was indeed a great experience and certainly added to our enjoyment of the trip. The Hoanib River Basin is a very special place and we would like at some stage to return to the region and explore some of the parallel river basins north and south of the Hoanib, in search of desert adapted  wildlife.Yes you are absolutely right, Desert Rhino is also a wonderful camp and location as well, when we visited in 2017 they had enjoyed d/a Lion sightings over several days prior to our visit, but we drew a blank. 

I can understand how you must have felt meeting Andrea Turkalo in C.A.R., another great of the wildlife conservation movement,  just sitting possibly on her seat on the platform in Dzanga Bai is as close as I will get but nevertheless quite a thrill. (Report currently in progress). I seem to be following you around at the moment, as I remember (a long while ago) an image of yours taken in Madagascar of a unique Baobab and I had posted an image taken at the exact same location. Thank you again for your interest and contribution.

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gatoratlarge

@johnweir thank you!  Might have been 2003 as the years run together but you get the picture.  It's very interesting to get a sense of timeline as things are so fluid.  I had read an article that I thought current about the five? musketeers and thought things very stable and going in the right direction, then read of their poisoning later so discouragement, then about the strong measures in place now that it has the attention of the government so hope again....all so fluid but I'm optimistic.  Your report is excellent.  Hope to meet you some day soon preferably in the African bush!

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