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!
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.
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