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


johnweir

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johnweir

@ForWildlife, Was unaware of any criticism being directed his way. Find that unbelievable, would you like to enlighten me and others exactly what the criticisms are. Thank you.

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In July 2017 we travelled to Namibia for the first time, visiting several locations on the circuit, the highlight of which was a few days spent trekking free roaming desert adapted Black Rhinoceros in

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 hopeful

Thank you to everyone who contributed to the bird ID debate (#1, image16), greatly appreciated, I envy your skills. @buddy4344, stay tuned you may find some of the detail interesting, particularl

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ForWildlife

Just follow the facebook page 'Helping the Desert Lions' for example. They criticized him for not translocating lions, when that fails (recent demise of Nkosi) he shouldn't have translocated them. Lots of armchair warriors and shouting in capitals.

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Having been told that a meeting with Dr Stander was highly unlikely, and then meet him, must have been gratifying. 

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Peter Connan
4 hours ago, ForWildlife said:

Just follow the facebook page 'Helping the Desert Lions' for example. They criticized him for not translocating lions, when that fails (recent demise of Nkosi) he shouldn't have translocated them. Lots of armchair warriors and shouting in capitals.

 

A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing. Now mix that with an attitude...

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johnweir

@Peter Connan, Couldn't agree more, wonderfully well put.

I am not a lover of Facebook but have just spent  a couple of hours reading the various postings regarding this issue and it has just confirmed my reservations about this highly popular social media platform. The postings of 2 or 3 individuals start to get very repetitive after a very short while and offer little or no solutions to the problems faced by d/a Lions other than to criticise the work of others. To be fair MET (Namibian Government Body), do seem a little ineffective.

Everyone makes mistakes, but I do know one thing Dr. Stander has done more for the long term conservation of desert adapted Lions than any other person on the planet. Under the most difficult of circumstances, circumstances that most of us would find intolerable. It still remains my own personal view that without his highly meaningful long term intervention this unique population of Lions would not exist today. In fear of being 'trolled' I have decided against expressing my strong views any further on this matter, and will return to my trip report in the next few days. 

@ForWildlife, Thank you for drawing my attention to the appropriate Facebook pages, however not a very pleasant experience.  

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ForWildlife

I fully agree with you. He has done far more than anybody. Every now and then I question things on those pages. They either get answered in a very defensive way, and don't actually address the points I raise, or they get ignored or waved away as not true. They seem to believe for example that kraals are the solutions. I've pointed out that in those arid areas farmers might not want to put their cattle in a kraal at night as this reduces the grazing time of their livestock, which reduces their health and/or pregnancy rates. This is just put aside as not true. The other point is is that it might not always be better to put your animals in a kraal at night. If a lion gets in a boma with your livestock you will lose a lot of animals, if you leave your animals out at night, the lions might just get 1 or 2. It's a very complex issue and there are no simple one-size-fits-all solutions, which they largely ignore. I use facebook quite a bit but I got of all the confirmatory stuff it serves you, so not too long ago I opened a second account and liked lots of pages I don't like. Hunting pages, political pages, prominent figures. It's opening a whole new world for me. I'm seeing what those politicians are feeding their followers, what hunting organizations are feeding their members. No wonder it drives the disparity of these days.

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Peter Connan
6 hours ago, ForWildlife said:

They seem to believe for example that kraals are the solutions. 

 

In the '50s and '60s, my grandfather owned land in what was about to become the Timbavati game reserve. In those days, there were no fridges or shops close by, and as my grandmother liked milk in her tea, they tried for a few years to maintain a small dairy herd. These were kept in a traditional thorn kraal at night, but the numbers kept reducing. One night they witnessed how a lion jumped the fence (which was 6 foot high and wider than that, grabbed a fully-grown heifer and jumped back out, heifer in mouth.

 

Quite apart from your very reasonable concerns, I do not believe there is enough thorny growth in these parts of Namibia to build kraals big enough to be effective on a sustainable basis.

 

@johnweir, I think one can confidently say that Dr. Stander has not only done more than anybody else, but that he has probably done more than everybody else combined.

 

Do not let the voice of reason be silenced purely because other voices are argumentative and disparaging.

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johnweir

@Peter Connan, It is not hard to see why you are one of the most respected members of this safari community, clearly it is not just about your wonderful bird photography, thank you for restoring my faith in human nature.  

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Peter Connan

Thank you for the kind words @johnweir

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Kitsafari
On 9/28/2018 at 11:27 AM, Peter Connan said:

 

 

, I think one can confidently say that Dr. Stander has not only done more than anybody else, but that he has probably done more than everybody else combined.

 

Do not let the voice of reason be silenced purely because other voices are argumentative and disparaging.

 

@Peter Connan so well said Peter!

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Kitsafari

@johnweir what a privilege to meet Dr Stander, and what a gift the desert gave to you in addition to those beautiful lions. i hope charlie makes it too. 

 

what's interesting that you had highlighted is how the government is slowly coming around to the importance of lions to tourism and its potential for revenues. I've always been pretty sore about how the government has not responded to protecting the lions after the musketeers were killed. I had watched the vanishing kings, and, like many other people, grew attached to them. But to villify Dr Stander and question his motives and his efforts is just wrong. given the considerable lack of resources and support, Dr Stander has done a superb job raising the plight of the desert lions to the world. and he's still doing it despite all the setbacks, heartaches and frustrations. I just hope the government will lend him more support as it wakes up to the immense potential of tourism money that can be earned not only from the unique lions but also for the elephants, rhinos and the brown hyenas too. 

 

Don't be afraid to tell us how you feel. there'll always be haters and always be naysayers. if you don't respond to unreasonable comments and opinions, you don't give them credence. 

 

oh and btw, I am thoroughly enjoying your TR with all the descriptions and nuggets of information . 

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johnweir

As part of a 3 night package at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp clients are expected on one of the full days to take a full day excursion out to the coast, as we had a (free) private vehicle and guide I had explained initially that if we had not observed any d/a Lions I would prefer to spend that day searching for them. As we had managed to locate some Lions we were more than happy to head for the coast on our last full day at this camp, and we both thoroughly enjoyed the experience and were glad we had gone.  As you progress towards the coast the Hoanib River passes through a variety of different desert habitats, initially the river passes through classic desert riverine habitat as highlighted in many of the images already published, before opening out into a wide flat well vegetated floodplain. Beyond that a broad band of sand dunes are encountered before a narrow gravel plain and eventually coastal habitat and the sea. This year due to heavy rainfall in April the Hoanib River had flowed well past the wide floodplain, if it reached the sea I am unsure but it certainly has done historically, but only rarely. The coast is about 30 miles from camp but due to the terrain takes around 5 hours to reach (with stops), the ride is on the relatively rough side. We left camp at 05.30 and for the first 90 minutes it was dark and cold, you could still see Giraffe and Elephants as we drove down the riverbed. It had just got light as we approached the floodplain and we were amazed at just how much plant-life the area supported. 

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The sun has just come up over the very impressive floodplain. Michael (our guide, a wonderful man) had seen a Leopard here earlier this year. As we left this area the riverbed was made up of vast areas of dried sandy soil which as it dried and cracked formed interesting patterns.

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Numerous mammal and bird footprints had been captured in the drying soil.

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This spoor was left by a small cat, was it an African Wildcat or a juvenile Caracal? This was to be a day of footprints!

 

As we left the floodplain a lot of Raptors were sighted, particularly Rock Falcons and Augur Buzzards, floating on the early morning thermals. Michael eventually got us in position to take a few images.The two below are of a reasonably cooperative Augur Buzzard.

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As we started to climb into the sand dunes a small herd of Gemsbok (5) were sighted and a solitary Kalahari Springbok. 

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A lone Kalahari Springbok. Bovid sightings in the region usually consist of very small groups or just ones and twos and are not common.

 

As we climbed higher into the dunes the wind that had plagued the earlier part of our trip returned, so leaving the vehicle and photography became difficult.

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As we dropped towards the coast unbelievably out of nowhere a large fresh water oasis appeared, there are one or two in the area and they are fed by underground springs. Note the close proximity to the sea.

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It is here that the 3 orphaned desert adapted Lion cubs took up residency and began feeding on large birds. 'Charlie' was here for a period before teaming up with her 'Aunt' (Xpl-69) and moving further inland. (see earlier in the trip report). The other 2 sisters are still in this area, doing well and are now taking the occasional Seal and Antelope.

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Cape Cormorants on a sand bank in the oasis. I have seen images of the young Lions hunting successfully at this exact spot. I realise it is almost an impossible task but can anyone identify the small duck like bird on the water in front of the reeds at the bottom left of the image. Even with binoculars Michael drew a blank. He was saying as we sheltered from the sand storm that he regularly sees the 2 Lions here and that he was quite surprised he was not able to locate them.

 

 It was about a 20 minute drive to the coast and the Cape Fur Seal colony at Mowe Bay, from the oasis.

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The Cape Fur Seal colony at Mowe Bay. It is very much smaller than that at Cape Cross, there are about 3,500 individuals here and they are not 'harvested'.

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The smell was not good, Cape Fur Seals are apparently more closely related to Sea Lions than true Seals, something to do with them having visible ears.

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How could any decent human being club cubs like this to death with a baseball bat?, a real blot on Namibia's wildlife and conservation credibility in my opinion. Sorry to mention it again.

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There was plenty of activity in the sea.

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A bull With his harem and offspring.

 

Returning to the vehicle Michael decided to drive down the coast (possibly prompted by my witterings) to the point where the Hoanib River theoretically should join the sea as he felt the two Lions must be there, possibly hunting Flamingoes. We spent a considerable amount of time searching the area but found nothing until we decided to have one last look close to the beach, here Michael picked up some footprints in the wet sand. They were from 2 Lions  which had been in the area no more than 30 minutes before our arrival.

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Very fresh Lion spoor, we tracked them on foot for awhile before they vanished into the reedbeds top right on the image, at this stage Michael deemed it was getting too dangerous so we left the area and had lunch on the beach. So near yet so far.

 

After lunch we visited the beached wreck of 'The Suiderkus' a fishing trawler which ran aground in 1976, all the crew were saved. The sea has claimed a considerable amount of the wreck in a relatively short period of time.

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At 14.00 we met the other clients at the airstrip for a very short 15 minute flight  back to camp, we would have preferred to have driven back with Michael but I suppose it did give us an aerial view of the route we had followed in the morning which was interesting. When the weather is bad all clients travel back by road.

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 This is the area we searched for the Desert Lions, so somewhere in this image are 2 young Lionesses.

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This an aerial view of the fresh water oasis we stopped at in the morning.

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Another fresh water oasis, smaller and slightly more inland.

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An aerial view of the floodplain.

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The upper reaches of the Hoanib River close to camp.The spread of vegetation around its banks is interesting it supports several species of desert adapted animals for which the region is famous.

 

The following day we left camp early so we could try to find the Lions before heading to the airstrip for our flight. The Lions were not about, but had been seen very early in the morning heading for the relative safety of the mountains and would for a while only be seen by those with the capacity to track them.  There was quite a bit of wildlife about Gemsbok, Elephant and Giraffe.

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I was hoping this bull elephant would stand on his back two feet in the classic pose but it never happened, possibly the branches were too low.

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This was the last image I took in this wonderful region before boarding our flight back to Doro Nawas, to collect our vehicle and then head on to Etosha N.P.

 

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'Fairy Circles' in the desert as we flew back, once agin we were the only people on board, a private plane both ways, not bad. 

 

WILDLIFE VIEWING

Wildlife in the region is generally sparse as you would expect in a desert habitat. However it does not stop individuals criticising the wildlife viewing experience at this camp. We knew exactly what to expect and so would anyone else if they had researched the region properly. We only saw 9 different mammals during our time in camp and one of those was a mouse. If you want 'wall to wall' wildlife this would not be a location to consider. But if you want a unique experience seeing some familiar animals in a completely different setting it is well worth considering and it allows you to capture some great images. The scenery is just breathtaking.

Desert adapted Lion sightings are not common, anyone visiting has a chance of a sighting but most leave without one. We understood this fully but arrived with plenty of hope which fortunately was realised.

I think you would be very unlucky not to see d/a Elephants and Giraffe during a visit, we saw lots both on drives and around camp.

Cheetah and Caracal are very, very occasionally seen, Brown Hyaena possibly more often.

A couple who were staying in the camp for several days left camp at 05.00 one morning and drove in the direction of Desert Rhino Camp for several hours, they were eventually rewarded with a good sighting of a desert adapted free roaming Black Rhinoceros. Both these 2 camps are operated by Wilderness Safaris and are often combined in itineraries. Both camps make a significant contribution to wildlife conservation in the areas in which they are sited and should be applauded for their efforts. 

 

To follow, observations on and experiences in Etosha N.P. 

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michael-ibk

I very much enjoyed this section, the landscape really does look gorgeous, and your photos are absolutely beautiful. Thank you for sharing, and looking forward to the Etosha part.

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ForWildlife

The scenery of north-west Namibia is just stunning!

I believe I can see a (red-knobbed) coot in the lower left corner of the photo with the cormorants.

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Agree with @ForWildlife, that it looks like a coot, none breeding adult, if you look at the photograph there is another coot on the land, to 12 o’clock from the one in the water, which shows the thin legs.

With regard to your comment that lion are eating seal, l presume that they are reasonably easy for the lions to catch, so do you know if they make up a high percentage of their food?

 

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johnweir

@ForWildlife and @CDL111, thank you both for taking the time to respond to yet another ID request, my bird sightings list for the trip has been updated.

 

Regarding the 3 young Lionesses and their feeding habits the following information has been acquired from various sources:

1. When they were first orphaned (just over 18 months ago) they moved to the oasis featured in the posting above. During this time they are known to have caught and eaten, Cape Cormorant, White- breasted Cormorant, Red-billed Teal and Flamingo. Around this time they were also making forays into the dunes, Porcupine and Gemsbok were taken. All 3 youngsters developed well on this diet and one was tagged.

2. February 2017 they were seen with a Gemsbok kill near the airstrip at Mowe Bay.

3. August 2017, all 3 visited the Seal Colony on 3 occasions and were observed feeding and I quote 'on several Seal carcasses'.

4. Shortly after this all 3 teamed up with Xpl-69 and spent time around the floodplain, she is a documented highly successful large mammal hunter. (Gemsbok, Giraffe).

5. Not sure when but 2 of the Lionesses left this grouping and went back to the coast/oasis region and resumed feeding on Cormorants and other wetland birds.

6. March 2018, the 2 were seen feeding on a Seal carcass they had scavenged from a Brown Hyaena, also around this time they were again noted to be moving further afield and were recorded with Gemsbok and Ostrich kills.

7. 'Charlie' (she should receive a code number soon), the young Lioness I saw spent some time away from Xpl-69 on her own, but did not rejoin her sisters. During this relatively short (3 weeks) period her condition deteriorated badly and she became a concern. Now as seen in this thread those concerns (as confirmed by Dr. Stander) are  significantly reduced since she has reunited with Xpl-69.

So I think we can safely say that the ready supply of Seal, a relatively easy to catch prey item, has probably contributed to the survival of all 3 Lionesses. I would think they will continue to feed on Seal now and then when unsuccessful elsewhere.

 

@Game Warden, I was one of the members querying donations for the running costs of this outstanding resource, you will be pleased to hear that as requested a donation has now gone to Desert Lion Conservation.

 

Anyone with an interest in Desert Lion should be aware of the following resources that are currently available:

DVD - I first became interested in these fantastic cats after watching 'Vanishing Kings' on the National Geographic Channel, about 3 years ago and was able to record it onto my system. Trying to buy a hard copy (DVD) proved more difficult, I eventually found an outlet in Windhoek but they were not allowed to send copies outside Namibia and South Africa, something to do with copyright. So I called in at the shop during our visit this year and was pleased to learn that 'Vanishing Kings 2' had recently been released. It contains a complimentary copy of the first video, but is still not for sale outside Namibia and South Africa. Both films generally centre on the fortunes of 'The Five Musketeers', film 1 ending on a relatively optimistic note with all 5 Lions doing well and the expectation that they would make a positive contribution to the long term survival of this unique subset of Lions. Film II, recaps on the story with some wonderful new footage but ends sadly with 4 of the Lions dead, only 'Tullamore' (Xpl-93) remains. A note at the end confirms his death shortly after the completion of the film, all 5 were either shot or poisoned as a result of human-Lion conflict. Both films contain some beautiful footage much of which was shot in the Hoanib area, if you can get a copy they are well worth watching and adding to your library. All proceeds go to Desert Lion Conservation. (Namibia Book Market NA$ 310).

BOOK - 'Vanishing Kings (Lions of the Namib Desert)' by Philip Stander with Will & Lianne Steenkamp. March 2018. HRH. 360pp. £35, can be bought cheaper if you shop around and is readily available worldwide. If you have an interest in Desert Lions, the region or wildlife generally this book is a must. It very much covers the whole story of Dr. Standers detailed work over many years to conserve and study the Desert Lions of the Namib. The text is scholarly yet highly readable and includes much of his research and experiences over the years in a highly accessible format. It contains a very interesting narrative, research notes, maps, graphs and hundreds of breathtaking images. (If you want an idea of how good the images are this month's edition of Travel Africa (84, Oct-Dec 2018) contains two on pages 146/7 and 150). This is a  book you will read, use as a reference source and just want to thumb through, because of the images and the stories they tell. In my unbiased opinion this has to be one of the best wildlife books to come on to the market in recent years, it is relatively expensive but worth every penny. Once again all proceeds go to Desert Lion Conservation.

 

In my first posting I included an image of a Little Egret taken near Walvis Bay, a bird I personally associate with Africa, and commented that I had seen one recently in Scotland. Yesterday (5/10/2018) I was out at Aberlady Bay again near Edinburgh to see the huge flocks of Pink-footed Geese (7 - 8,000) that roost in the bay at this time of year, when a Little Egret turned up again.

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Little Egret, Aberlady Bay, Scotland, (09.30 5/10/2018) a species last seen in Namibia in July 2018. The species clearly has a very extensive and expansive range.

 

Etosha next. 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

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Thank you so far for a beautiful and very informative trip report. It must have been such a thrill to meet Dr. Stander, maybe almost as good as seeing the desert adapted lions?? :)  In these times the world could use more of his kinds...

You are very good at explaning what a trip to the desert in Namibia is all about. You can see elephants and lions a lot of places, but there is just something special about seeing them in such an harsh enviroment.  And I must confess that I am little jealous, since I only managed to see  desert elephants, never lions.

 

Very much looking forward to the Etosha part, such a special place too... 

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JW this is another well balanced presentation , thank you for your great pictures and thoughts.

We never visited this region ,but itis now much higher on must list.

Looking forward to Etosha.

Cheers Colbol

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johnweir

On arrival back at Doro Nawas our trusty Ford Ranger was still in situ and we were back on the road within 20 minutes of landing. The drive to Etosha (363 km, took about 4.5 hours without stops) was uneventful, but we would have liked to have had more time to explore some of the geological sites we passed enroute to Outjo.  We stopped at Outjo a very pleasant small town which we were familiar with from last year, for a late lunch at the wonderful German bakery, as things were to turn out we should have stocked up with food here. We arrived at the Anderson Gate (Etosha N.P. West) at 16.30.

Just to set things in context we visited Etosha very briefly in July of last year during a 3 night stay at Ongava Tented Camp. Ongava was very good but part of our package should have included a full day in Etosha and this should have been easy to deliver as the entrance to Ongava is actually at the Anderson Gate. Anyway for reasons beyond our control, shared transport, other guests' priorities and a guide with other things clearly on his mind, we only spent half a day in the park, and only visited 3 waterholes, one of which was Okaukuejo which however left a lasting impression. So this year we were determined to spend much more time in the park and 'do' it properly, if you can ever 'do' Etosha properly. The images start with 3 taken last year.

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A general image of Okaukuejo Waterhole taken in 2017 at 10.30. The image shows what to expect at this very popular waterhole, large herds of bovids during the day.

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A good chance to get up close to some interesting species in this case Blue Wildebeest. Okaukuejo 2017.

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Okondeka Waterhole 2017. A wonderful diversity of wildlife. There is a pair of mating Lions hidden in this image, Okondeka has a good record for delivering Lion Sightings. (see later in this posting).

 

Etosha has been extensively covered by numerous people on this site who are far better at writing narrative than me so I will just make some general observations on how we saw the park during our visit, some people will agree others disagree, fine. We have always not been particularly drawn to fenced reserves, artificial waterholes, flood lit viewing areas and crowded wildlife viewing locations. As a result of this visit a lot of our preconceived views particularly on Etosha have now been moderated, this proved to be a great wildlife location to visit. 

We stayed 2 nights inside the park at Okaukuejo Restcamp run by Namibia Wildlife Resorts (NWR) and 2 nights just outside the Von Lindequist Gate (East) at Mushara Lodge (private), this gave us 3 full days to explore the park. Staying inside the park is highly beneficial as it allows for an earlier start and later finish for your game drives, one of our best sightings would not have happened had we been staying exclusively outside the park. The accommodation at the Restcamp was good, we were 20 yards away from the waterhole, it was comfortable, clean and everything worked. The negative for us was the food in the restaurant which was the worst we have had anywhere, undercooked and luke warm chicken is a recipe for disaster, the other options were similarly presented, so we refused to pay which they eventually accepted. Breakfast was O.K. but we avoided any cooked food. Our second evening meal consisted of a bag of crisps and a chocolate bar from the under stocked village shop, fortunately we had a bottle of wine with us and some beer. Lots of people were complaining about the food, it wasn't just us being fussy.

On arrival at our room, the first thing to do was to inspect the waterhole which was relatively quiet (seems busiest around 19.00 - 22.00), however a herd of Elephants were bathing and drinking. A very different scene to last year but also much later in the day.

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Okaukuejo Waterhole 17.30, July 2018. Elephant herd, saw none last year, different clientele at dusk and during the night.

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During the first night I visited the waterhole several times and there was usually something to see, after midnight there was only me and another guy who was using a tripod and taking some wonderful shots. It was rather cold.  My hand held night time photography needs to improve.

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Black Rhinoceros. 23.30, we saw 7 Rhino during the visit. (5B,2W). 3 were seen away from the waterholes which we enjoy more.

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Spotted Hyaena. 00.15

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Angolan Giraffe. 00.45, then to bed.

 

The following day 07.00 just outside the camp perimeter fence our first Lion of the day was sighted heading away from camp in an easterly direction, it was a mature male and he was calling loudly. In our 3 days in the park we were to see 32 Lions, 21 of which  I can safely say did not include repeat sightings. I thought Namiri Plains in the southern Serengeti was pretty good for Lion sightings but Etosha proved better marginally. Four kills were also observed, all zebra.

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The first Lion of the morning. No sooner had we spent time watching this healthy specimen than a vehicle stopped to tell us that about 5 miles in the opposite direction 3 Lionesses had taken down a zebra close to the road. This was something we particularly enjoyed about our time in Etosha, the sharing of sightings information with other visitors, we immediately began to do the same. On this first day we had decided to concentrate our efforts on the areas between Okaukeujo and Halali and if time permitted later in the day the area north of Okaukeujo.

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Enroute to the Zebra kill, this male was resting close to the Nebrownii Waterhole. 

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This superb Lioness was spotted further down the road we watched her for quite a while, as she approached our vehicle I estimated she was about the same age as Xpl-69 we had seen whilst at Hoanib. She was however significantly larger and in much better overall physical condition. I should think the Etosha Lions have it much easier than their desert adapted relatives. I read somewhere that when Dr. Stander first started studying the Desert Lions one of the first he became familiar with was one he had previously tagged in Etosha. I think that movement between the two populations today is rare if at all.

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The Kalahari Springbok occur in high numbers throughout the park, a very delicate and under rated antelope species. 

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Eventually arriving at the kill visibility was not too good as it was was quite a distance from the road, in this image 2 of the 3 Lionesses can be seen, just. There were cubs also but they (2+) were seen only for a few seconds. 

Leaving here we drove to the Salvadora Waterhole on the edge of 'The Pan' hoping for a Cheetah sighting which was not to be, before heading south to Halali to have some lunch. On arrival, in the wing mirror it was clear something was flapping about at the side of the vehicle, it turned out to be the rubber side window seal on the 'Beekman' rear canopy and the whole window was missing, clearly it had fallen out enroute. We didn't fancy retracing our route as we had spent a lot of time on some of the shall we say quieter tracks which would have been impossible to locate again. So we reported it to the park staff who did not appear interested. Using the mobile phone we had been provided with by ATi Holidays (our contact in Namibia) we contacted them and they made arrangements for a replacement vehicle to be at Mushara Lodge when we arrived the following evening. This took under one hour to arrange, excellent service.

We got north of Okaukeujo in the late afternoon and visited Wolfsnes Waterhole first, there was not much about other than small mammals and I managed to get some images.

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Cape or Southern Ground Squirrel.

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Yellow Mongoose.

Heading for Okondeka which we had visited last year a car stopped to let us know that a pride of Lions was feeding on a Zebra kill about 2 miles west of the waterhole. This proved to be a very good sighting and one we would have missed had we not been staying inside the park. We located the kill and parked up for 30 minutes on our own watching the adults feed and the 2 cubs enjoying being part of an extended family. The following images were taken at the kill.

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The Lion pride as seen from the road, the light was fading quite quickly. The pride consisted of 2 adult males (one very much more dominant than the other), 3 adult Lionesses (one again appeared more dominant, and I am assuming she was the mother of the cubs), one young Lioness (2+ years) and 2 very young cubs (2-3 months old).

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The dominant male (centre) and possibly the matriarch, mother of the cubs.

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The quieter of the two males. 

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The two cubs showed an absolute obsession for the two males which was not always reciprocated. I was very much of the opinion that this may well have been the first time they had met their father.

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This cub was not put off easily. No cubs were harmed during the taking of these images.

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The less dominant male is inspected now, "Perhaps this is my Dad?"5H1A4518.jpg.ebaec6e6f35f439cc8d6bfd2c1a3fd95.jpg

A similar response, this male roared so loudly it appeared to knock the first cub off its feet.

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The dominant male, what a special animal.

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"This looks interesting".

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It is not surprising that a significant number of cubs perish at a young age by being crushed by their family members.

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The young Lioness, she fed last. 

 

We headed back to camp enjoyed a gourmet meal (as previously described) in our room and then went out on a evening game drive organised by NWR, the drive itself was good it was a proper evening drive lasting 3 hours (20.00-23.00) covered quite a large area, some of which we had not visited and was reasonably productive. We saw a large pride of Lions which we had not seen before, an African Wildcat and several Rhinoceros actually out in the bush. The quality of guiding was very poor considering the guy was a Ranger. Overall the drive was however worth doing. On our return to camp I decided to have a look at the waterhole which was quiet with just a lone Rhinoceros drinking.

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 White? Rhinoceros drinking at the waterhole 23.45

Tomorrow we would explore the eastern part of the park, before heading to Mushara Lodge for hopefully a decent meal. Oh! yes and to change the vehicle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ForWildlife

Those are two very impressive males! Any idea who collared the female?

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@johnweir, your photography, especially the one of the giraffe at the water hole catching  the reflection is excellent. To be able to go out late at night and photograph the wildlife has to be gratifying. 

Substantial quantity of big cats in such a short time.

With regard to man made water holes, having also stayed at some camps that have these, one on my thoughts are, is mankind helping to increase the survival rate of wildlife?

I am of the opinion that they are, I also accept that others will say let nature take it's course. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
johnweir

A big thank you to @Game Warden, for tidying up my last posting, (a few technical issues crept in) and posting the very old Dr. Stander interview which I had not read before and certainly adds to this report.

@ForWildlife, not sure who is fitting collars in Etosha, saw quite a few, all on females. I include an image of another collared Lion in this posting.

@CDL111, I am certainly coming round to your way of thinking regarding man made waterholes, following this visit to Etosha.

 

Our second full day in Etosha started early and would focus mainly on the waterholes to the east of Halali, we were mindful of the fact that we had to be at Mushara Lodge (just outside the park's eastern gate) by 16.30 to swop our vehicle over following the loss of the rear canopy window the previous day.

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Shortly after leaving this Pale Chanting Goshawk was seen close to the road enjoying an early morning snack.

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Just before Kapupuhedi Waterhole, three Lionesses were seen with a fresh Zebra kill (not visible on this image) relatively close to the road, as this was very near to yesterday's sighting it is highly likely they are the same Lions, although this collared individual was not observed yesterday but may have been at the kill hidden in the tall grass. 

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There were several Black-backed Jackals and Spotted Hyaena in attendance at the kill, this BBJ stopped on the side of the road next to our vehicle for several minutes. The Lions were however certainly in charge and several attempts to steal some of the kill were instantly and violently repelled.

A few miles beyond the kill a jolly of Bat-eared Foxes were unexpectedly seen heading towards 'The Pan', there were 6 in the group.

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One was behaving in a very submissive manner and was observed repeatedly crouching alongside one of the group with its mouth agape, not entirely sure what that was about.  (See image below). 

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Up to this point apart from a reasonably large herd around the waterhole at Okaukeujo we had not seen that many Elephants, things were certainly about to change. 

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This group were observed close to the Okerfontein Waterhole, they crossed  the road in front of us and then made their way to the waterhole we followed them from a distance to the waterhole. They were certainly some of the biggest Elephants we have observed so far on our travels, they were significantly larger than the desert adapted Elephants we had seen at two locations earlier in this trip. 

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This particular old  individual was massive and dwarfed our Ford Ranger, it was however very placid and just ambled slowly by, fortunately.

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The group heads towards Okerfontein Waterhole.

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At the waterhole, which was very much smaller than most of the waterholes in the park and below the observation area.

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The others left, this Elephant appeared to be happier drinking on its own.

During last years brief ill fated excursion into Etosha, Red Hartebeest had been seen but only from a considerable distance, it was a species I hoped to see and photograph this year. Once we had rejoined the main track a single individual was spotted heading in our direction but decided not to co-operate and turned and fled.

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At least I had one image, a small herd was however seen on the third day in the park.

Kalkheuwel Waterhole was the next to be visited and this was to offer more excellent Elephant sightings both at the waterhole and enroute.

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This youngster certainly had plenty of spirit, the image was taken about 1/2 mile from the waterhole. 

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Kalkheuwel Waterhole, we estimated that there were about 40 individuals in this herd and it was pleasing to see youngsters at all stages of their development. The image below was taken at the same waterhole (Plain's Zebra & Gemsbok) is included to show what I don't like about artificial waterholes, in the centre of the image a pump housing can clearly be seen thus distracting from the viewing experience. Surely  the park authorities have the capacity to discretely disguise/camouflage these so that they are not apparent to visitors. (Just a minor criticism).

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Black-faced Impala.

Proceeding towards Namutoni the next waterhole visited was Chudob, here several species could be seen in close proximity to each other.

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Gemsbok (Oryx) and Angolan Giraffe.

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Five species in this image, this is pretty typical of the Etosha Waterholes, often even more species can be observed at once. This in my opinion is a strength of the park for photographers and visitors alike.

These female Greater Kudu were observed at Koinachas Waterhole (small), the last we visited before driving to Mushara Lodge.

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This image of a male Greater Kudu was taken at the same waterhole, what a magnificent individual.

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Watching on was a Martial Eagle, which refused to become airborne despite my best efforts, I think it was stuffed it is probably still there!

 

We arrived at Mushara Lodge slightly late with a virtually empty petrol tank. The replacement car was waiting for us when we arrived, it was brand new and full with fuel. All credit to Europcar they managed the situation very well and agreed not to charge us for the additional fuel. More importantly however we had our first decent meal in 72 hours, our stay in the park however had been the best way to see the park.

 

 

 

 

 

    

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Kitsafari

just catching up with your latest instalments John as I'd been very preoccupied with family matters. 

 

Just wow on the those photos showing the interaction between the cub and the male lions. That wide open mouth with the cub's head just nexxt to it was amazing. excellent photography on the those big cats. 

 

A quick aside that I wanted to share with you was a talk by Dr Stander in Singapore with Emcie (who researches brown hyenas) just a week ago. we also had a good chat with flip, and he was pleased as punch when I asked how Charlie was faring and he said very well. And I just had to share that good news with you given your concerns over the young lioness. he also gave us glimpses of his new documentary, which he said was the first screening in the world, and all I can say is that I cannot , cannot wait for the full show. I will not spoil the awesome surprises in public! his talk made us want to jump on the plane to get to Hoanib immediately but the limited time we have  to spend in Namibia has ruled Hoanib out for now. 

 

 

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 @johnweirI am so happy that you got to meet the legendary Dr.Stander.I think your photos are simply awesome.I am looking forward to seeing you in the CAR next year.Obviously the fact that both you and Dave are going and that Tyrone we will be guiding was even further encouragement to visit the CAR.

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