The Lions – The Tsalala Young Male
The Tsalala Young Male, affectionately known by many in the Sabi Sands as Solo, was born half way through 2005. Of a litter of four, he was the only one who made it through the hurdles of adolescence narrowly escaping many encounters with the notorious Mapogo coalition.
His mother is the legendary Tailless Female, a lioness who still to this day battles on in an attempt to spread her genes. When Solo was just about 4 months old his mother was badly beaten up by a clan of hyena; leaving her with no tail. But she managed to save her son and went on to protect him from numerous attacks. How this young male escaped death, one can only wonder as he is a true survivor. His story is one of bravery and a true never say die attitude.
When the Tsalala Pride were eventually taken over by the Mapogo Coalition (Kinky-Tail and Satan) in mid 2008, the Tsalala Young Male had one of two choices: He would have to run or fight.
Barely a whisker over 3 years of age, he wouldn’t have stood a chance in a battle. Realizing this he fled his natal area into the southern parts of Londolozi. It was unchartered territory and, for the remainder of 2008, he wandered around aimlessly. Despite this, he was viewed a number of times looking fit and healthy, even seen bringing down a wildebeest on his own.
Challenges and obstacles were around every corner yet he showed amazing character. It is this period of his life which inspired the name ‘Solo’ as he had no attachments to any pride and was simply too young to assert dominance… but these tough times shaped him and helped him build the character which has made him what he is today.
During his nomadic years, he bumped into the Sparta Pride who, themselves, were at a crossroads. Their dominant male at the time, the Shaws Male (a.k.a. Rollercoaster Male) was aging rapidly. Spending his time between both the Sparta and Styx Prides tiring him and his movements gradually became cumbersome. The Shaw’s male condition continued to deteriorate and with it the Sparta Pride as well. It was during this interplay that the Tsalala Young Male began encountering the pride, on a nearly daily basis.
At first the Tsalala Young Male was seen trailing the Sparta Pride at a distance, scavenging the remains of any kill they may have made; but with each day his confidence grew and his trailing distance narrowed. Completely unrelated, with no link in bloodline there seemed to be no answer as to why the Shaw’s Male did not just kill the intruder? Yet he proceeded to allow the Tsalala Young Male to actually feed and then recuperate with his pride!
Theories have been flung around in an attempt to answer this question, but the one that holds weight with me is the fact that the Shaw’s Male was in need of help; help in the form of buffalo hunting and in countering an onslaught that looked more and more imminent from the two Mapogo brothers. It is my belief that he ‘adopted’ him almost as an understudy, a male who he could use in an attempt to extend his tenure of dominance.
On 1st January 2010 the Shaw’s Male succumbed to old age and passed away. With his death came a huge weight on the shoulders for the Tsalala Young Male. As the dominant male of the Sparta Pride, a position usually reserved for older, more experienced males, he had to grow quickly into his new role. A year since the Shaw’s Male died and the Tsalala Young Male is holding the fort well as can be seen by the below video of the pride successfully hunting buffalo late last year. He is primarily seen moving through the southern sections of Londolozi with 5 members of the Sparta Pride. Aged five and a half his mane is starting to darken as it thickens out., and he has shown a growing interest in mating with the pride females!
One feels that if he can avoid an encounter with the Majingilanes, he will be able to keep the Sparta Pride intact. Differing opinions think that he is simply buying time, waiting to form a coalition with the younger males in the Sparta Pride, to lead a territorial assault of his own, however he might also merely seek to hold his already established territory. The only thing we are sure of is that the Tsalala Young Male has already gone through more than most, his past has been rocky and his path ahead is by no means going to be paved. We follow him with great interest…