The stage is now set for the “Battle of The Sands”

Potentially an epic clash that will see two Male Lion coalitions face off against each other is on the cards…the prize…dominance, territory, access to prides and females and ultimately fathering offspring and the spreading of a gene line.

Many of you will be familiar with the 4 Majingilane Males who over the course of the last year have systematically wiped out close on 20 lions and have taken control over a huge tract of land. They started off in the Manyeleti Game Reserve and moved east into the Kruger National Park and then back westwards into the Sabi Sands. Aged roughly 7 years old they have ousted the notorious Mapogo Coalition of much of their territory and have whittled them down to their current depleted state!


One of the Majingilane Males enjoys the early morning winter sun by Adam Bannister

Having already sired cubs in the Styx and Tsalala Prides and having recently mated with the troubled Sparta Pride; they are thought to be sitting pretty. Many people, myself included, thought they were in for the long haul… the only worry I ever had with them was greed: they have taken so much land that they often have to split up in an attempt to patrol ‘everything the light touches’.

It seems that we had not factored in yet another coalition coming into the fray. Enter the Matimba Males…6 male lions who are showing a keen interest in the northern section of the Sabi Sands. An area that has Majingilane Territory written all over it! Now we at Londolozi have not seen these males yet but we hear via the world of social networks that these males are starting to become more and more vocal and seemed set on pushing further south. Every day the come closer to our northern boundary and we wait to get our first look…

A report from a ranger just north-east of us on the 1st August gave us a clear story that the two coalitions were in the middle of a verbal confrontation. Throughout the night lion roars pierced the winter silence and brief sightings of male lions running around the bush clarified that it was indeed Matimba Males squaring off against the Majingilane Males.


Four of the Matimba Males drinking by Janine Gomes

As far as details of these Matimba Males goes I am still a little bit in the dark. I have been told that there are 6 of them; all roughly the same age with the oldest male ‘Ndhuna’ believed to be around 6 years of age. They entered the Manyeleti area, presumably from the Kruger National Park, around October 2010. That makes sense as it was only a couple months prior to this that the Majingilane Five left the same area!

So we sit around unsure of how this act will play out. Each drive brings us further clues…will the 6 Matimba Males decided that the Sabi Sands is worth fighting for or will they be content to stay put in the Manyeleti? Will the 4 Majingilanes feel that they can out-power the slightly younger yet numerically stronger enemy or will they simply move their territory south? We wait in anticipation…the one individual I can’t help but feel sorry for is Tsalala Young Male! He has done so well to survive this long and just when you think he has gone through it all, lion warfare takes yet another twist.

If you have had an experience with the Matimba Males we would love to hear from you…the question on all our minds is “who will win?”

Written by Adam Bannister
Photograph courtesy of Janine Gomes

Filed under Wildlife

About the Author

Adam Bannister

Guest contributor

Ranger at Londolozi Game Reserve

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on Lion Warfare : Countdown to bloodshed

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Karen Gilliam

Nice write up Adam, it is going to be interesting to follow how it all plays out for sure!
Hopefully Solo will stay under the radar and another one in dire danger yet again is the Styx Male. That boy has amazed us all.

Mele Andru

Hi Adam , you be sure that a lot of peoples ask themselfs the same questions , but for now nothing serious happened between Matimbas and Majingilanes . No one has even a scratch and all prides are still strong . About the Tsalala Male , his faith was decided a month ago , he was catched by Majinglanes and received a serious correction . Also all 3 young Sparta lionessses were acepted by Majingilanes . So in fact he is nomad from now one . I can say you that he is still with 2 Sparta young males and all 3 are alive and well somewhere in south .


Adam, it will certainly be interesting how this will play out. Based on the reports 3 of the Majingilane Males were able to chase 4 of the Matimba Males off their territory. So 1:0 for the Majingilanes. My hopes are they will agree on a borderline around the northern fringes of Majingilane territory.
With regards to ages of the different coaltion members. As far as the Matimbas are concerned the rangers in the Manyeleti judge them being around 5 years, with one being probably one year older.
I am wondering about the age of the Majingilanes though. I have not seen them live, but on footage shot by Safari TV and on pics. The fist time I have seen them was in November 2009, and they looked to me as being 3 – 3,5 years old, with one being app. a year older. When they chased out the 2 Mapogos in June/July 2010 they looked to me being 4 – 4,5 years of age. That would mean they are 5 – 5,5 years old by now with Black Nose being a year older. Of course I might be wrong!

Syl Yemen

Thanks Adam. Great article. So many of us are wondering how this will play out.


Also you have to worry about the other nomad male out there our Styx boy who is doing very well on his own after being attack by the majingilanes many times, I wish he would find a few more like the two Nkuhumas males or even the Ottawa boys that would be so ideal but only time will tell and we all will be watching. Thank you so much for the write up!!


The Majingilanes were able to kill two Mapogos. The second Mapogo was killed when the remaining five advanced East. The air of arrogance of the two advanced guard Rasta and Bent Spine, may have led to one being killed. The other three held back or may have been lost in the confusion. The same thing could happen to the younger Matimbas. If they are not careful, or tightly knit, most likely, they’ll be dispatched easily. Majings are pretty solid lions. If a Majingilane is to be separated and cornered, he’ll still make alot of mess before he goes down. If all six Matimbas are present, then its a different story.


I just have to say this… If all the mapogos were together vs the majingilanes, I cant bet my savings on the Mapogos. They controlled 5x more land then the majingis.. These new males however will be a threat no doubt.

Rich Laburn

I’m not so sure I agree as the Mapogos are old lions and their numbers are now down to three. The Majingilanes continue to get stronger every day and they currently number four. Time will tell however as the Mapogos certainly have more experience at hand. Thanks for your thoughts.

Penny Parker

Wow, thanks for the great article. All we can do is wait with trepidation to see how this all pans out..


The majingi boy looks like kinky tail on that picture! How ironic. Anyhow, I just read on the Arathusa blog that the two Ottawa males have teamed up with 3 unidentified males. That’s insane. Big coaliation after big coalition. I guess bloodshed is indeed imminent. 🙁


With the Majingilane Males fathering so many cubs from several different prides is there any fear of future inbreeding years down the road from their offspring?


Matimaba lions all the way….saw them when I was at djuma”…..power..sorry majingilane males

Raviraj Pawar

The mapogos, majingilane’s, matimbas, skybed pride lions all came from menyeleti and surrounding areas. These lions have a reputation of being very aggressive and excellent hunters and have earned the nickname ‘buffalo hunters’.
However when it comes to coalition wars compared to other male lions in other game reserves these male lions kill. They are very brave and they choose to kill instead of letting the other male go and avoid injuries. Just my observations.

Adam Bannister

Just a note. The Mapogo males originated out of the Sabi Sands from a pride called the Sparta Pride (central Sabi Sands) but some nice points there Raviraj

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I was at djuma in August 2011, and was able to see the 6 matimba males. All looked very strong and powerful and I believe they are the only coalition who could take over the majingis

Rakesh Menon

My below observations are based on the several documentaries I have watched & the blogs, articles including the above relating to the lion prides. Read somewhere that lion sex ratio in aforementioned areas has increased in favour of males in the past decade (could be wrong). But it is a likely factor since we are witnessing more and more larger male coalitions (4 or more). Such coalitions have been witnessed to be more aggressive, killing off several pride males, their cubs (including lionesses). The lion population may get affected adversely and take some time to stabilize & recover by the time the new males sire their own cubs. But this, coupled with the fact that a newer more powerful coalition which has already entered the scene, i am a little unsure whether the new generation of cubs will get a chance to survive to adulthood. Since such coalitions are controlling larger areas, defending the cubs and the prides may not possible at all places & at all the time for such coalitions. Now if this process continues, then lion population may get adversely affected. The killing of lionesses due to the aggressive nature of the new males off lately is also a cause for concern since that is one lioness less for a chance in lion population control & growth.
I know there are several other natural factors which might balance off such developments. But the rate at which these large coalitions are killing, i feel there is some imbalance in the dynamics of the current lion population there.

(Awaiting your responses – correct me or enlighten me with more knowledge 😉 🙂
Best wishes)

James Tyrrell

Hi Rakesh,
Thanks for your observations. Some very interesting points you make.
I think with something as complex as lion population dynamics within an ecosystem such as the Kruger Park and surrounds (in which the population of lions is somewhere between 1500-2000 lions), fluctuations are far less predictable than we imagine, and a lot of the cyclical changes happen over a longer time span than we as humans can appreciate.
With social media these days bringing far more of the lion population dynamics into the spotlight than in previous years, I imagine that it’s also only recently that the general public has started paying close attention to what is happening in the lion world, and this has just happened to coincide with the rise of big coalitions like the Mapogo, the Majingilanes and the Matimbas.
Maybe in a few years time we will see single big males dominating prides and territories again…



Dear James, I think that most of us started to pay attention to the lions’ world after watching the documentary “Brothers in Blood”. That’s why I consider the Mapogos had the main contribution to this, while the other coalitions became known only for playing a role in the Mapogos show.

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