Lions of the Namib Desert

In Namibia, there is so much conflict between the humans and desert lions in the Namib Desert that it is unlikely that there will be desert lions for much longer. In 2015, it was thought that a young lioness held the key for the survival of the desert lions when she bore five cubs nicknamed ‘the Musketeers’, but it wasn’t long before they lost their lives.

What is special about desert lions is that, in a place where it may rainfall may be as little as 5 millimetres a year, they can survive at all. These lions can go for long periods of time without water as they gain moisture from the blood of the animals they kill and in order to find prey, they have bigger home ranges and travel a lot further than other lions. However, although they are well adapted to their environment, it is surprising that there are still desert lions around today as their numbers are estimated as low as a hundred.

This is mainly because of the human-lion conflict that has raged in the Namib Desert for many years. With game sparse, many lions have turned to moving closer to habitation in order to hunt donkeys, goats and sheep; the same livestock which is essential for the inhabitants, who themselves have a marginal existence. The Lions find their new prey easy to get at as the livestock are not housed in enclosures (‘kraals’).  In turn, this spurs the locals to hunt the lions to protect their cattle; no lions equals no loss of livestock. It is not illegal farmers to kill lions that have attacked their animals but of course, this is poor conservation practice – not that this is the locals’ first thought – and more needs to be done in order to protect both the farmers’ livelihoods and the small population of desert lions that remain.

This situation is made worse still as much of the killing of the lions that goes on in the Namib is trophy hunting. The young, fit males that will get them the highest price are hunted which has meant that now, only two of the nine prides have resident males which makes breeding, and increasing the desert lion’s population, more challenging. The Namib covers a vast area so it’s harder for the often solitary male lions to find the prides with females of breeding age. And if they do, they will kill any cubs that may be around to bring the females back into season. That’s a cruel twist of nature.

Besides the desert lions, Namibia is considered as having one of the most successful conservation strategies of sub-Saharan Africa as wildlife here is thriving due to the fact that many of the local people own the wildlife, so they spend time protecting it in order to generate money from tourism.

If you are looking to explore North-West Namibia and all of the brilliant wildlife that is here then look no further than one of these brilliant camps.

Hoanib Skeleton Camp is located in the private Palmwag Concession and straddles the Palmwag area and the Skeleton Coast National Park. The camp boasts a beautifully tranquil and remote location where it is unlikely that you will see many other people but there will be wildlife and incredible scenery in abundance. You may come across desert-adapted elephants, gemsbok, giraffe, springbok, and brown hyena; perhaps even desert lion and black rhino.

You can explore the area either on foot, in the air or in a vehicle and you will be led by expert Wilderness Safari guides to get the most out of your trip. This is a brilliant and exclusive camp which boasts just eight tents making it an intimate and exciting camp at which to enjoy your next safari.

Another camp that we highly recommend is Damaraland Camp which is located in the Huab River Valley and considered to be one of the most pristine wilderness areas in Namibia. The camp is perfectly located with stunning views of the surrounding desert plains and valleys, and distant views of the Brandberg Mountains.

Within the camp, there are ten tented and thatched units including a family unit. All of the units are raised on wooden decking which extends to the front so that you can utilise it as a large viewing deck from which you can take in the breath-taking views. The communal areas boast a comfortable seating and dining area as well as a bar with a fireplace. You can use the pool to cool off, especially if you are here during the summer months.  The staff here are just the best that we’ve ever encountered in Namibia.

During your guided walking or game drives, you probably won’t see a huge amount of wildlife as it is not regularly spotted in this part of Namibia, but you may see desert-adapted elephant, gemsbok, springbok and baboons.

Last, but certainly not least, is Doro Nawas which is situated within the dry Aba-Huab River Valley within the Doro Nawas Conservancy in the Kunene region of Namibia. From the camp, you can enjoy superb views of the Etendeka Mountains to the north and the red sandstone cliffs of Twyfelfontein to the south.

There are sixteen units within the camp and they all boast a bedroom, an en-suite bathroom with an outdoor shower as well as a veranda which is perfect for stargazing or sleep-outs. This camp is a brilliant base for self-drive and fly-in guests.

From the camp, you can enjoy extensive game drives and hikes through this ancient landscape. You will mostly get the opportunity to see animals that are found in the dry riverbeds that are only full during very wet seasons. In this part of the country, you won’t find large concentrations of wildlife, but you may see desert-adapted elephant, gemsbok, springbok and the bat-eared fox. There is also a lot of beautiful birdlife to enjoy.

If this area interests you, then call us on 01342 811787.