NEWS FLASH! - (November 2011)

Ongava Research Centre wins First place, Runner-up and Highly commended in the BBC Wildlife camera-trap photo competition.
Find out more about the camera-trap competition at:

Winner: ‘Lion and Jackal’

Image Location: Ongarangombe Waterhole, Ongava Game Reserve, Namibia
Image Date: 10th September 2010, 16:34, Late Afternoon (sunset approx. 19h00), Late Dry Season (rains started 15th Nov)

Equipment: Reconyx HC-500 Camera Trap

Image Description:

This is a picture of a black-backed jackal (Canis mesomelas) attacking a young adult male African lion (Panthera leo) in broad daylight. Both lions and jackals typically drink from waterholes at night, so it is uncommon to see them both at the waterhole during the day. While sometimes we see jackals harassing larger carnivores such as brown and spotted hyaena, we have never seen, and can find no records of, a jackal being so obviously aggressive towards a lion. Being predominantly scavengers, jackals tend to be very cautious in their approach to potentially dangerous encounters, and are much more likely to flee from than fight with other predators.

Information for the sequence

This image obviously prompts a ‘what happened next?’ question. When we configure our camera traps, we set them to take a rapid sequence of images after the initial trigger – typically 10 images spaced 1 (or 3) seconds apart. In this instance the image here was number 5 in that sequence, so we have images from the same camera trap before and after the attack – the jackal initially tries to bite the lion’s rear leg, turns away and then launches himself at the lion’s throat. The lion appears to be completely surprised and hardly defends himself (see the full sequence of 10 images). Images taken from a different camera trap on the other side of the waterhole, also show the jackal subsequently jumping at the lion from the other side! After that they move apart and there seems to be no further interaction (see the sequence of images below).

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Runner-up: ‘Lions and Kudu’

Image Location: Onduri Waterhole, Ongava Game Reserve, Namibia
Image Date: 12th October 2010, 12:40, Midday (sunset approx. 19h00), Late Dry Season (rains started 15th Nov)

Equipment: Reconyx HC-500 Camera Trap

Image Description:       

Here we see two adult male African lions (Panthera leo) surprising an adult male kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) while it was drinking at the waterhole. The two lions had been resting under two different shady trees (see additional images), each about 30m from the waterhole, and seem to have decided to that the temptation to hunt was too strong, even though it was the middle of the day. Kudu and Gemsbok (Oryx gazella) are the most common prey of lions on Ongava Game Reserve. At the time of the image, we estimate the first lion to be within 5m of the kudu, probably too close for the kudu to be able to escape. Subsequent images on the camera trap show both lions returning to the waterhole only minutes later for a drink – the kudu escaped successfully on this occasion. This image and it’s outcome provide a good demonstration of hunting success in lions – from the image we would expect the kudu to have no chance of escape – however in our semi-arid environment and for small groups of lions, less than 20% of all hunts are successful.

Highly Commended: ‘Kudu and Warthog’

Image Location: Tiervlei Waterhole, Ongava Game Reserve, Namibia
Image Date: 11th November 2010, 11:12, Late Morning (sunrise approx. 18h30), Late Dry Season (rains started 15th Nov)

Equipment: Reconyx RC-55 Camera Trap


Image Description:                   

The Tiervlei waterhole is a trough located close to our research centre, and we have camera traps operating day and night to monitor the use of the waterhole by all species. This image was taken right at the end of the dry season, when there is often competition between species for access to the water. The image shows an adult male warthog (Phacochoerus africanus) disturbing a mixed group of kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) that were drinking at the trough. We use this and other images of competitive interactions between species to define ‘drinking hierarchies’ that describe which species are dominant when competing for a water resource.

Conservation Project

Name: Ongava Research Centre, P.O. Box 58, Okaukeujo, Namibia
Ongava Research Centre (ORC) is a privately funded research facility that was established 7 years ago on Ongava Game Reserve, which is a 30,000 hectare area adjacent to Etosha National Park in the north of Namibia, Our primary sponsors are West Midland Safari Park (UK), Philadelphia Zoo (USA) and the Reserve’s Directors. In it’s broadest sense, our primary aim is to use science to gain a better understanding of the ecosystem. More specifically, we are using a combination of scientific techniques (e.g. genetics, GPS collars, camera traps and GIS modelling) to study the dynamics of animal populations on the reserve. We use camera traps to monitor carnivores, and are using identification of individuals and statistical methods to estimate population sizes for large carnivores such as lion, spotted hyaena, leopard and cheetah. This information is of critical importance to the reserve for their management of herbivore numbers.