March 1 – 7: NamibRand Boys – days 84 – 89
On the 1st, we discovered that Lindt was missing. A search in the morning turned up nothing. In the late afternoon, the four remaining boys abruptly headed northwest towards the farmhouse, when they returned to the pens afterwards, Lindt was back with them. Since Lindt doesn’t have a radio collar, there is no way to know whether he spent that time with the wild female, or doing something else. After his reappearance Cadbury seemed especially pleased to see him again, but none of the boys moved much again that day.
It’s been a bit of a tense week for those of us monitoring the boys, but it has now had a happy ending. With the coming of the rainy season, the herbivores have scattered all over the place making it far harder for the boys to hunt. As of March 2nd, they hadn’t successfully hunted for nearly a week, although they were spotted following groups of Oryx and Hartebeest towards the mountains. On the 3rd, they (especially Mushara) approached so closely to the farmhouse that James had to chase them off, and still didn’t successfully hunt anything. On the 4th they became increasingly aggressive when James fed the girls, with Mushara again at the fore, but didn’t bother trying to hunt for themselves.
Reluctant as we were to start feeding them again, it was obvious that they needed a boost and on March 5th, James located a recent leopard kill (a young Oryx) and placed it in the boys path. The leopard had only eaten a little before leaving so there was plenty left. James moved it far enough away so that the leopard couldn’t find it again. The boys tucked in and ate their fill.
The following day the boys spent a relaxing day, with Mushara spending time with Rosy and Ra with Misty. They didn’t leave the vicinity of the pens all day.
On March 7th, the boys again headed out onto the pan after spending only a brief period looking for the girls at the pen. At some time around 6pm they successfully hunted a Springbok! The last data point for this day is the kill site.
The satellite collars on both Mushara and the female have now switched over to their second (and final) duty cycle. This means that instead of them recording GPS data every 2 hrs, and transmitting it back to us each day, they now record GPS data only every 12 hrs and transmit to us one a week. This was a pre-programmed changeover that is set in the collars’ memories just before fitting on the cats. The reduced activity will extend the battery life considerably.
March 11 – 25: NamibRand female
As you can see from the attached map, the collared female is ranging very far to the West of the boys at the moment, almost out into the dunes of the Namib-Nauklaft desert. Interestingly, we received a report of a Springbok kill site in the vicinity of the rocks you can see under her latest data point. The site was seen from the air during a scenic flight, so no close examination was possible, but the assumption was made that it was a leopard kill as one is known to be in the area. Given her proximity to the site however, it seems more likely that she brought it down.
March 25 – April 1: NamibRand Mother
The collared female has now moved away from Jagkop and as of two days ago was spending time as the Western base of the Losberg.
I have just returned to CCF after a few days in NamibRand, and I really appreciated the hospitality of the people there.
March 29 – April 3: NamibRand Boys – Days 111 – 116
On March 30th we believe that the boys made a small kill, possibly a springbuck but have been unable to directly confirm this. Their behaviour suggests however that they are not presently hungry despite our not having witnessed a kill since the two Hartebeest back on March 24th.
On the 31st they headed out onto the pan, but did very little aside from sleeping out there before returning to the girls pen the following night. As April begins, they spent their morning courting the girls, although our latest additions (Shanti and Tisha) show no interest in coming down to the fence to greet them. That evening Mushara spots a group of zebra and starts stalking them, the others soon follow with Kia taking over leadership for the hunt. The zebra see them but don’t appear concerned, continuing to stroll towards a nearby waterhole. Close to the tail end of the herd, Kia and Ra go to ground, apparently waiting for the zebra to turn around and return to the pan, but Lindt loses patience and attempts to run one down with Cadbury and Mushara by his side. The zebra scattered and the three boys quickly gave up the attempt. Shortly thereafter all five boys returned to the girls pen.
Two days later they succeed with another kill, but as yet James has been unable to get close enough to identify it.
As regards the maps, you may notice the purple line on the right of the picture below. This is the reserve boundary, and will appear on all maps from now onwards.