The Lion Prides of the Hobatere Concession Area: in Namibia’s vast Kunene Region landscape, a ‘Pride’ comprises one to any number of females with cub(s), often not accompanied by a resident male. The males tend to roam over an extended area, meeting up with more than one group of females from time to time.
The Hobatere Concession Area was re-zoned in 2012, with the Hobatere Lodge falling into the Hobatere North zone (with the #Khoa di //Hoas Conservancy as Concessionaire), and the Hobatere Camp-site, (located close to Etosha’s western entrance, the Galton Gate), falling within the Etosha Roadside zone, also renamed as Etosha Roadside Camp (with the Ehirovipuka Conservancy as Concessionaire).
The lions of Hobatere, a 34’000 hectare wildlife protected, conservation area adjacent to western Etosha NP, is home to two groups of lions:
The Hobatere North Pride (2013 – May 2017): comprised two adult females (Hpl-1 and Hpl-11) and 4 small cubs. Hpl-11 raised her two female cubs (Hpl-14+15), together with her daughter, Hpl-1 and her two female cubs (Hpl-12+13) within the Hobatere Concession. Hpl-11 was killed along the Hobatere southern boundary April 2016; Hpl-1 (SPOTS) remained the dominant female within this range until the arrival of five newcomer males, May 2017. With no resident male to protect the SPOTS-Pride of 3 adult females and seven 9-month old cubs, SPOTS, her daughter Meyana (Hpl-13) and their group moved out of harm’s way (Hpl-12, Sidatia, remained in Hobatere North), initially into the mountains south-west of Hobatere (onto communal farmland), returning to a smaller range along the Hobatere southern border, including the Etosha Roadside area. With the end of the 5-year drought came natural prey depletion (large numbers of Hartmanns Zebra, Oryx and Giraffe had died of hunger and disease), aggravated by the paucity of the boundary fence and the presence of large numbers of unattended livestock grazing within this protected area and along the outskirts, the SPOTS-Pride found a regular and easy source of prey on farmland. An increase in farmer-lion conflict between June 2017 and March 2018, resulted in the removal by the Ministry of Environment & Tourism (MET), of SPOTS and a number of her pride, relocating them to an area approx. 150 km inside of Etosha; Hpl-1 died as the result of wounds sustained in a fight on her way back to her territory, March 31; little is known of the whereabouts of the rest of her pride, but regular monitoring within the Hobatere Concession indicates the probable survival of 3-5 of the original group.
The Hobatere North Pride (May 2017 to date): (their range predominantly western, northern and southern Hobatere), comprising 3 adult females, Sidatia, Naleli, ‘Black-Nose’ and five small cubs.
Hpl-12 (Sidatia), one of two females born to Hpl-1 (SPOTS) in December 2012, was first seen as a small cub on trail-camera footage early 2013, when the HLRP commenced. Together with her sibling, Hpl-13 (Meyana), they were raised within the boundaries of the Hobatere Concession. Sidatia (first collared 2015) has not raised any cubs, although she denned in July 2016 and again in August 2018.
Hpl-14 (Naleli, first collared 2017), Sidatia’s half-sister, was born mid-2013 to matriarch Hpl-11, Meebelo (Hpl-11 was killed on neighbouring farmland April 2016, due to Human-Wildlife Conflict; she was approx. 13-14 years old).
Naleli raised two females and one male cub (born January/February 2016), but little is known as to their whereabouts at this point. As the Hobatere boundary fence is porous, we lost track of them before we could mark them for monitoring.
Her second litter, two male cubs, (born January 2018), were born in a well-hidden den under a hill-side rock-ledge, approx. 2 kms from the Hobatere Lodge waterhole.
‘Black-Nose’ (Hpl-15), un-collared, sister to Hpl-14, Naleli, recently joined the Hobatere North pride after an absence of approx. two years, disappearing from the area after her mother, Hpl-11, was trapped and shot on farmland. ‘Black-Nose’ presented her three, small cubs in June 2018.