Tammy Hoth-Hanssen, AfriCat Foundation.
Conduct a study of the Lion (Panthera leo) population within the Hobatere Concession Area and movements between the Hobatere Concession Area, western Etosha National Park and adjacent communal farmland.
Lioness at Hobatere Campsite Waterhole 27.10.2012:
Introduction and Motivation
The Carnivore Atlas (Stander 2004) estimates a Namibian population of 562-894 lions in three density distribution categories: low, medium and high. (see map below). The Kunene and Etosha sub-populations are isolated from the Caprivi/Khaudom sub-population. The Hobatere Concession Area (hereafter referred to as Hobatere) lies adjacent to western Etosha, with the Hobatere lion population falling within the Etosha sub-population and in the medium to high density category.
(Stander: Desert Lion Project 2006)
Namibia’s free-ranging lion population contributes sustainably to the National Income through tourism, however, the local communities and pastoralists that bear the costs of living with lions, seldom share the benefits (Stander 2005). Lion (Panthera leo) move in and out of Hobatere on a regular basis, along the southern, western and northern boundaries as well as between western Etosha National Park and Hobatere. Communal livestock farmers of the #Khoadi //Hoas and Ehirovipuka Conservancies are affected by this farmer-predator conflict, regularly reporting lion movement onto farmland especially where the boundary fence is porous. Lion sightings, tracks as well as livestock killed by lions, are common on these border farms. The frequency of lions crossing the Hobatere boundary and the establishment of independent populations outside of the park, are not known. The extent of livestock loss and resultant lion mortality on adjacent farmland cannot yet be properly assessed.
2009 saw the implementation of the National Policy on Human-Wildlife Conflict Management, whereby a balance should be established between conservation priorities and the needs of people living with wildlife. This Policy creates mechanisms for rural communities to manage and benefit from wildlife and other natural resources. The strategies of the policy include:
Furthermore the draft Lion Conservation Management Plan has an objective to "initiate targeted research on lion ecology, biology and management and mitigation of conflict".
Communal Conservancies have added substantially to the network of conservation areas, but, as these areas are not fully protected in the same manner as national parks are, it cannot be assumed that the natural resources are being sustained. The best indication of the impact of conservancies comes from recovery and increase of wildlife populations. Additionally, the status of large predators can be a useful indicator of the health of underlying wildlife populations.
Driven by increased food supply, the spatial expansion of lion in the conservancies of the north-western Kunene Region has increased. While numbers of certain large carnivores have remained stable or increased, numbers of lions have steadily declined. The disproportional control of lion may be due to less tolerance of lion driven by fear rather than the actual negative impacts caused by lions. This is suggested by the response of communities to Human-Wildlife Conflict incidents where frequency of 'problem lions' being removed is completely out of proportion to the damage caused by lions; a negative consequence is that of all the predators, lion are probably the most valuable for trophy hunting and tourism. (Namibia’s Communal Conservancies 2007 – Review of Progress)
The ½ degree block representing the section of the ENP border adjacent to Hobatere saw a total of 72 lions destroyed between 1982-2005, with an average of 3 per year. This was the third highest out of 14 blocks surrounding the Etosha National Park – hereafter ENP (Stander: Situation Analysis of HWC in Namibia – 2005). However, reports by conservancy game guards and AfriCat CCCP units indicate that this may be a very conservative number for the amount of lions killed on farmland adjacent to ENP.
An evaluation of previous research (Junker & Stander 2001) indicates that the status and stability of the Etosha lion population can be measured from a sample of four key prides. By monitoring size, age/sex structure, recruitment and adult mortality rates of the four key prides, a sufficiently robust sample can be obtained of trends in the population. One of the key prides is the one in western Etosha: the Renostervlei / Dolomietpunt pride (Stander: Desert Lion Conservation 2006).
The Ministry of Environment and Tourism is currently undertaking on-going monitoring studies of lions within the Etosha NP. The North-west (desert) lion population of Kunene Region is likewise being intensively monitored and although this population is continuous with the Etosha population, the understanding of the populations as well as the risks and conservation status differ. Population density and activity patterns in Hobatere were established by Dr P. Stander pre-2007. A number of individuals were collared but little information is available on post-2007 density and movement. The Hobatere Concession Area, which forms the corridor between the northwest and ENP, has been devoid of monitoring or research, in particular since the departure of the Hobatere tourism concessionaires on 01 May 2011.
This project aims to re-establish accurate current data on the demography of lions within Hobatere and the surrounding areas. It will provide data on the movement of lions into and out of Hobatere, as well as attempting to provide some of the driving forces which stimulate lions to move. The project aims to quantify both the degree of human-lion conflict and the impact it has on people living around Hobatere.
Mitigation measures will be assayed and the effectiveness of each measure will be assessed. The resultant information will assist in the making of informed decisions as to how best to alleviate conflict and minimise livestock losses, while at the same time maximising conservation goals for the lion.
This project compliments the work being carried out by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism within Etosha National Park and in the greater Kunene area. It fulfils a number of strategies laid out by the National Policy on Human-Wildlife Conflict as well as the draft Lion Conservation Management Plan.
Key Questions / Hypotheses to be tested
AfriCat will be responsible for running the project through the Communal Carnivore Conservation Programme (CCCP), established in 2011.
The lion population size will be determined through the recognition of groups and individuals. The entire study area will be stratified and each strata will be covered systematically to capture and mark individuals by means of radio collars. Animals will be located by tracking their spoor, using sound play-backs to attract them to bait and responding to reports of HWC on the borders of Hobatere.
Attempts will be made to mark and individually recognise 75% of the population and population estimates will be calculated using mark-recapture models within each strata.
Individuals will be marked using GPS Satellite collars. Aerial or GPS locations will be followed by ground observations to record group composition in relation to individuals and age/sex structure and the ratio of marked to unmarked individuals.
The movements of lions will be related to habitat, prey distribution, intra-specific social interactions and other land tenure variables.
Male tenure will be observed. In particular, the nomadic segment of the population will be monitored, especially sub-adults that leave the natal pride and non-tenure males, with special attention to movements, social interactions and mortality.
Additionally any lion reported to be in a conflict situation on the farmlands and/or conservancies bordering Hobatere will be collared with a GPS collar and returned to Hobatere. Their subsequent movement and conflict behavior will be monitored.
A veterinarian registered with the Veterinary Council of Namibia will be responsible for the immobilization and collaring of lion using standard procedures.
Blood samples will be taken and submitted to an appropriate laboratory for routine serology and biochemistry.
Consideration will be given to holes in the fences, which may be repaired in an attempt to prevent further cross-border movement. If an individual or group of lions frequently move back and forth onto farmland, and are deemed to be habitual stock raiders and therefore "problem" animals, the option of destroying/hunting such an animal will be considered.
AfriCat has developed an innovative Communal Carnivore Conservation Programme (CCCP) whereby the communal livestock farmers are encouraged to adopt improved livestock protection methods, effectively reducing livestock losses.Data received from the GPS Satellite Collars may be used as an early-warning system to further minimize losses.
Assistance from MET
The Project will at all times maintain close communication with the management of Etosha National Park and Dr. Flip Stander in Kunene. If an individual or group of lions which have been collared within Hobatere or the surrounding areas moves into Etosha National Park it may be necessary to enter the park to continue monitoring its movements. In this case a request will be made to Park Management.
Biological specimens to be collected and place of storage
Routine samples will be collected from each lion darted. These will include serum, whole blood and tail hairs. Samples will be stored at the Etosha Ecological Institue.
Blood samples will be forwarded to an appropriate laboratory for routine serology and biochemistry.
In addition samples can be made available by EEI for any further research.
The project will be evaluated on the following areas of success or failure.
|AfriCat Hobatere Lion Project 2013 - 2015 Phase 1||Unit||Unit N$||Phase 1
|Year 1 - 2013||Year 2-2014||Year 3-2015||Notes|
|Telecommunications - phone and internet||36||500||18000||6000||6000||6000|
|Postage and Delivery||36||100||3600||1200||1200||1200||Hard copies, data and reports.|
|Stationary supplies||36||150||5400||1800||1800||1800||Paper, ink cartridges, notebooks, pens etc.|
|Printer||1||2500||2500||2500||0||0||Multifunction and cartridges.|
|Backup hard drives||2||1500||3000||3000||0||0||2 x 1TB|
|Research Vehicle||1||400000||400000||4x4 modified.|
|Fuel||24||215000||107500||107500||640.00 litres / month.|
|Tyres||24||3000||72000||36000||36000||Tubeless tyres x 2 sets per year.|
|Maintenance / Repair kits||3||10000||30000||10000||10000||10000||Gen. Main / repairs.|
|Service||10||16000||160000||53000||53000||53000||Av. 3 services per year.|
|Trail Cameras||10||8700||87000||87000||0||0||Including cameras, security boxes, memory cards, recharg. Batteries + charger.|
|Telecomunications system linking study area with AfriCat base||1||90000||90000||Includes - Main Compound: Infrastructure and recording management. Relay station.|
|GPS Satellite Collars||10||25000||25000||25000|
|VHF Telemetry Set||1||8500||8500||0||8500|
|Digital SLR Camera + Lenses||1||80000||80000||0||0|
|GPS||4||2000||8000||2000||6000||0||Including car adaptor and software.|
|Rechargeable batteries||180||30||5400||5400||0||0||32 units, 2 sets of 4 per camera - camera traps and other field equipment.|
|Camping gear||1||15000||15000||0||0||Tent, sleeping roll, cooker, lamp, grills, potjies, fridge (adaptor and plug incl.), folding chair and table, stove etc.|
|First Aid Kit||1||1000||1000||0||0|
|Veterinary supplies||3||10000||30000||10000||10000||10000||Darts, gas for dart gun etc.|
|Aerial patrol||Anti-poaching / illegal trade.|
|Assistants wages / food||36||5000||180000||6000||60000||60000|
Radio Collar Costs:
Total cost per GPS Collar + Service Fee, landed in Namibia: N$ 25 000.00
For more information about GPS collars see: Radio Collars for Lions