Caprivi & Kavango

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Tracking key species in Caprivi

Tracking key species in Caprivi

Tracking key species in Caprivi

Following is extracted with permission from the June newsletter of the Caprivi Carnivore Project

Large carnivore observations by members of the public in Bwabwata National Park (West Caprivi) are becoming more frequent. Together with spoor observations as well as photographs from the infra-red cameras placed within the park, these records are slowly putting together a bigger picture of not only large carnivore species, but also age classes and social group sizes.

This information has been obtained indirectly without any form of interference with the animals themselves and is incredibly important for management and conservation as well as long-term monitoring. Large carnivores are also one of the biggest tourist attractions and along with the sheer numbers of elephants, these regular sightings of popular species are bound to promote the Caprivi Region as a tourism destination.

Since late 2009, lions have regularly been seen and heard throughout the Kwando Core Area. It is now commonplace to wake up to the sounds of lion roars echoing across the Kwando River. During 2010, these lions settled and observations of groupings, sexes and ages as well as locations have contributed to a picture of pride composition, where they are spending time and what they are eating. This information has been entered into a database and will contribute to the newly revised Large Carnivore Atlas Project.

The Kwando Pride is made up of two adult males, three adult females, one young adult female and two sub-adults of which one is male. In April the young female was observed mating with one of the adult males, so the pride might possibly be on the increase in the near future.

Although there is no information on trans-boundary movement, this is highly likely as they do occasionally disappear for days to weeks on end. While in the Kwando Core Area they have been observed between the Angola border and south of Horse Shoe and as far west as Malombe Pan turnoff where they were observed lying on the tarmac of the Trans-Caprivi highway. This area within Namibia covers approximately 400 to 500 square kms.

In addition to lions, there have been frequent records of leopards, cheetahs and wild dogs. Leopards are regularly captured on infra-red camera with the same individuals photographed in different areas giving an indication of their movements. Different leopards are often photographed in the same area, which indicates a degree of overlap of home ranges.

Pack size for wild dog is estimated at approximately 12 to 13 adults with one known pack using the Kwando Core Area as part of their home range. Cheetah numbers are estimated at one adult using the core area and two adults outside the core area.

Read more about the region in our destination guide:

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 08, March 2012)