In a merciless desolate furnace – an unexpected predator survives.
Namibia’s Skeleton Coast is aptly named… it is a extremely harsh environment where many a marooned sailor has perished in the sands of the world’s oldest desert. However many species survive here – including rare desert adapted lions. The journey to adulthood of one of these lion prides, the Five Musketeers, is the subject of a new 1 hour HD documentary written and directed by husband and wife, Will and Liane Steenkamp. The movie, Vanishing Kings, has been picked up by the Smithsonian and is slated for release in July of 2015. Check out the incredible trailer here: http://vimeo.com/108120470
A bit of history – Dr Flip Stander started Namibia’s Desert Lion Conservation Project in 1998… he essentially lives in the Hoanib Skeleton Coast studying the desert lions. In conjunction with Dr Stander, Will and Liane spent 18 months filming the “Five Musketeers” and their pride.
If you wish to visit the area where Vanishing Kings was filmed and to possibly meet with Dr Flip Stander and the Steenkamp’s then Wilderness Safaris’ Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp is the place to be. Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp has 7 twin rooms and 1 family room each with en suite bathrooms (with hot / cold running water, flushing toilet and shower) along with shaded verandahs. We suggest a 3 night stay which includes a roughly 30 kilometer drive down to the coast passing a number of oasis and ultimately ending at a massive seal colony. Later this day guests are flown back to camp. Nightly rates for 2015 range from US $450 to US $675 per person per night all inclusive depending upon the season. Please note: the home range of the lions is 22,000 square kilometers! The pride may spend many weeks away from the Hoanib Riverbed and when they are there it is generally only for a few days at a time.
In addition to the 3 nights at Hoanib Skeleton Coast we suggest 2 nights in the Sossusvlei area where you can attempt to climb the world’s largest sand dune “Big Daddy” while staying in comfort at one of a handful of intimate safari camps. Add to this 3 nights in the Kunene area at Serra Cafema Camp where you can meet with local Himba people and quad bike over some of the world’s most beautiful mountain / desert scenery. End with 2 or 3 nights in the Etosha area for Namibia’s best wildlife viewing. There are several small lodges and camps that offer comfortable accommodations along with great lion, elephant, buffalo, black and white rhino viewing… Roughly two weeks in length this trip is unlike any other to Africa… the landscapes are massive and often you feel as if you have arrived on another planet. Amazing stuff.
To learn more about the Desert Lion Conservation Project please visit their website at:
More about the movie – Vanishing Kings:
“Two years ago an old queen and her two daughters gave birth to a total of five male cubs and despite the hardships of the desert they have managed to raise them successfully. But soon the time will come for the ‘Five Musketeers’ to continue life on their own, when their mothers begin their search for one of the last remaining adult male lions. Faced with many unforeseen challenges the five young males need to conquer the oldest desert on earth on their epic journey to adulthood.
The pride is headed by an old queen who, at an age of nearly 17 years, is the oldest lioness alive in this epic wilderness. She teaches the five young brothers how to hunt, how to survive and how to rule a kingdom of sand, sun and dust. But when the seasons change, life in the desert becomes ever more relentless and inevitably takes its toll. The old, brave lioness dies after a spectacular attempt to kill a giraffe.
Rain in the desert is extremely rare, but when it does happen greenery explodes all over albeit short-lived. For prey species such as giraffe, springbuck and oryx it’s paradise. But as they spread out far and wide across the vast desert, paradoxically in these times of plenty the pride will have to overcome an extremely steep learning curve: It’s not drought that presents danger, but the unexpected rains, when finding food will be a gigantic challenge to ultimately avoid starvation.
In this 1-hour HD special we discover an extraordinary predator in one of the most remote wilderness areas in the world. Now for the first time ever in this extreme and epic landscape, we can observe, over an extended period, the secret lives of true desert lions. They roam the rugged mountains, the majestic sand dunes, the endless gravel plains and legend has it they prowl the beaches of the Skeleton Coast. With the help of lion researcher Dr. Philip Stander and sophisticated satellite tracking technology we will get the unique opportunity to witness the natural behaviour of one of the rarest kinds of lion. His lifelong devotion reveals an epic journey of hardship and triumph.
The blue chip style of the film will not be affected by the few and short appearances of the scientist who has collared all the lions for their own sake. He is aware that faced with the already ruthless elements of the desert there are even more dangers on the horizon: local villagers, poachers and hunters pose a threat to the survival of the population. And once the lions attack cattle the herders will unhesitatingly kill them. Philip Stander’s research over the past 17 years indicates that now more than ever our Five Musketeers’ survival is crucial. Without adult male lions, prides will fall apart and desert lions will vanish before our very own eyes…
Filmed in a cinematic style, the visuals of the film will engross the viewer in an undiscovered world. Combined with advanced aerial filming using both Cineflex and drones the film showcases the contrasting landscapes of the Namib. Experience choking sand storms, flash floods down ancient dry riverbeds, severe heat and surprising summer blooms.”
Ultimate Africa founder and president