Another member of the infamous Mapogo Coalition has died.  Yesterday, the Southern Pride Coalition of males moved deeper into the Western Sector of the Sabi Sands and discovered the Mapogo known by many as ‘Mr T’, owing to the easily recognizable Mohawk shape of his mane.

According to reports, video and pictures from properties in the western sector:

“Radio chatter started early in the morning with tracks indicating that the 2 different coalitions were on a crash course to come into contact with each other in the south western sections of the reserve…This is eventually where they were found, the 4 younger stronger Southern Males circling the already wounded Short Maned Male ( Mr. T ) from the Mapogo coalition…His pain was short lived as he died whilst being observed less than an hour later. His 2 remaining coalition mates, one already suffering wounds from a previous encounter with the Southern Males, headed east, and did not stop running until they had crossed over our boundary, moving into the central regions of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin.  Time will tell about their fate, but the expectations are that we will not see them again in the Western Sector.

Despite the loss of another member of the Mapogo Coalition, we would like to make a few points with regards to the history, and why on a ecological level, nothing better could have happened to the Western Sector of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve.
Casting back a few years, 6 to be exact, the Mapogo first made an appearance in March 2006 in the Western Sector, after having floated about the central portions of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin. The anticipation was growing amongst the rangers, following news of the 6 New Male lions creeping ever nearer the Western Sector. What was going to happen? When would they arrive? Where would they cross over? What would happen to the resident Males, and their respective territories? How would the prides be affected?

March 2006 – What a treat to drive around the Western Sector, 4 Different Lion Prides to choose from as far as viewing was concerned! As a ranger, would you go to the Sand River Pride of 2 Females and 8 cubs ( 10 ), would you try and find the Ravenscourt pride of 3 Females and 7 Youngsters (10), how about the Ottawa Pride of two groups of 2 Females and 6 Cubs each ( 16 )and lastly the most resident and impressive Ximungwe Pride of 7 Females and 16 youngsters (23). Add to these numbers the Nhlanguleni Male, The Castleton Male and the Sand River Male, and there were a total of 62 Lions to be seen and viewed, excluding the 6 new arrivals! Lions were flourishing, and the dwindling numbers of lions in the wild were being added to by the very successful breeding of the fertile prides in the West.
March 2012 – Oh how the excitement of the Mapogo arrival was overrated, based on the social structure outcome to the population dynamics of the lions in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin. Yes they provided formidable viewing and photographic opportunities, undoubtedly serving as a huge attraction to a multitude of guests wishing to view and photograph lions of such infamy, but from a species survival point of view, they have done unmentionable damage to the breeding and survival ecology of the lion species in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin, thereby affecting the total African lion population.
Of the original 62 Lions that were present in the Western Sector when they arrived, there are now only 3 origionals left, all belonging to the Ximungwe pride. The remaining lions are, 1 Lioness from the Ximungwe pride that joined from the Tsalala Pride, 4 Youngsters from these females (total – 8) and 2 Ottawa lionesses, both being Mapogo offspring. The Ottawa pride have 4 small cubs( total – 8 ), which in all likelihood will be killed by the Southern Males (to force the females into early oestrous), as will the Ximungwe pride youngsters we suspect.
Ximungwe Pride – 6 Years and not a single cub ( nil – zero – 0 ) has yet to be raised to maturity. That is a shocking statistic when it comes to the fathering and protection abilities of the territorial coalition, the Mapogo. They were more absorbed with their internal conflicts and dominance status within the coalition that they would kill each other’s cubs, the main culprit co-incidentally being the one killed today, Mr.T.
Remaining pride now currently number 8, including the 4 Youngsters whose fate hangs in the balance.
Sand River Pride – Debatable as to whether pressure from the Mapogo pushed them out of the reserve where they died. No Survivors
Ravenscourt Pride – 1 origional lioness of a pride of 10 survived, now part of the Ximungwe Pride.
Ottawa Pride – Presently we only see 2 Lionesses and their 4 cubs. None of the original Lionesses remain.
Sharing these stats I hope to make it clear that the Mapogo, although they will be missed, their inability to increase the lion populations in the Western Sector of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin serves as an indication as to their failures over a six year period, and with the new coalition, we may see natural lion dynamics return, which will include the sizes of prides increasing by: improved fertility, and possible superior paternal instincts to protect their young in order to survive to adulthood, and grow a strong bloodline with improved gene pools.”

It is with anticipation that we wait to see how the Southern Pride Coalition will adapt to life in the Western Sector and to finally having a ‘territory’ of their own.  Although nothing is cast in stone, there is very little competition for these males and it is expected that they will become dominant in this area.  Another chapter in the Lion Warfare of the Sabi Sands has closed and with it a new one is about to open.

Video Courtesy of Savanna Game Lodge
Report Courtesy of iDube Game Lodge 

Filed under Wildlife

About the Author

Rich Laburn

Head of Digital

Rich is the driving force behind Londolozi’s online storytelling and the Londolozi blog. His passions of digital media, film and photography, combined with his field-guiding background, have seen him take the Londolozi blog to new heights since he began it in 2009. Rich ...

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on Lion Warfare – The End of an Era
    Sheila Patel says:

    Thanks for sharing the video and the article with the stats.
    Mr T did put up a valiant fight. It was very sad and heartbreaking. But this is a natural occurence and was going to happen soon as the Mopogos are old.
    Your article has helped understand some of the reality and put things into perspective. Lets hope the sizes of the lion prides will increase with the new younger males in dominance.

    Rich Laburn says:

    I hope so too Sheila, the old guard is certainly crumbling and new dynamics will certainly come into play. The Southern Pride males are still young, however there are a number of them and this will play to their strength in securing this area as a stable territory.

    Victor says:

    I just watched this very insightful documentary told as it should be brutally honest and ruthless. In my opinion Mr T destroyed everything in his path the other lions then the first coalition an the later once accepted again killed all his brothers offspring. He left nothing no heirs to his kingdom only destruction. His death was horrible i was glad his reign was over but saddened on how he was dealt the same violent an unforgiving death. i agree 100% I hope the new lions will be more productive

    al says:

    I feel the Majingilanes will zero in on them at some point soon. They’ve been vying the Western sector for some time now. Furthermore, the Matimbas will push further South soon. Wouldn’t really agree on the little competition for these males as there’s just too many of them in separate coalitions at the moment.

    Rich Laburn says:

    I disagree Al, the Majingilane already have a massive territory and are dominant over two, perhaps three different prides of lionesses. There is no need for them to move west and get into conflict which will only serve to injure or harm them.

    Who knows about the Matimbas, but you must realize that these coalitions only push into other males territories when there is pressure on their own territories that they cannot get rid of. It was only natural that the Southern Pride males went west as they had nowhere else to go with the Majingilanes to the east and north and the Toulon & Kruger males to the south.

    The only competition for the Southern Pride males now are the remaining Mapogo (who will get picked off eventually) and the Nkhuma male in Ottowa. The Majingilane have no reason to go west so they are not competition just yet. The entire western sector is theirs for the taking, so long as they function together. rich

    Jamie Adams says:

    Horrible to see one of the big boys go, but time stands still for nothing. Mr T made sure many other lions were dealt the same ending as this. Its fitting that the onld Soldier went out on his shield. He can join up with Kinky Tail again and roam the lands of the sky. RIP Mr T.

    Kk says:

    I wonder what will become of the Tsalala four and BB? Are they old enough to be considered potential mates or will the southern pride males kill them off too?

    Rich Laburn says:

    Hi Kk, the Tsalala four and BB are in Marthly which is quite a long way from the western sector where the Southern Pride are now roaming. The Tsalala pride are still living under Majingilane held territory and as such it is doubtful that the Southern pride males will have anything to do with them so long as they remain in the western sector.

    Jody says:

    THANK YOU. Your perspective is refreshing and honest and I really appreciate it. Mr T, in particular, was a violent dominant male who, as you have said, truly affected the lions of the Sabi Sands, and not in positive ways. While I mourn his death, he died as he lived. Hopefully, the Southern boys will pursue their dominance is somewhat less lethal ways and our babies will grow to re-popiulate the area.

    Rich Laburn says:

    Too true Jody. One can only hope that there is a stable takeover and that the dynamics allow for a healthy population of lions to continue to grow.

    James Tyrrell says:

    The Tsalala four have been seen regularly on Marthly, often around Ximpalapala koppie, and slightly further north into Arathusa. It will certainly be interesting to see how they react to this new takeover by the Southern Pride, although they have been in Majingilane terriritory quite a lot recently, possibly keeping them out of reach of the South Pride, as these males are probably still too young to challenge the Majingis.

    The tailless lioness (older one) is believed to have given birth to a litter, also possibly on Ximpalapala koppie, but this has yet to be confirmed…

    Rich Laburn says:

    Nice to hear James, look forward to keeping up to date with this story.

    Keith Cox says:

    Mr T and the Mapogos led a bloody life .and and as is the way of the lion he died in one ,i do hope that with the Mapogos gone that the the lionesses of the various prides can lead a much more stable life and begin to breed and bring some much needed cubs to maturity ,terrific info as always thanks . Keith

    Rich Laburn says:

    Us too Keith. Thanks for your comments. rich

    Keith Cox says:

    Hi Rich do you think that the Southern Pride coalition will be be strong enough to hold on to to the territory they have taken or is there going to be another period of uncertainty ,with the other coalitions intent on the same thing ,the females could certainly do with a period of stability after the violent reign of the Mapogos , thanks Keith

    Rich Laburn says:

    Hi Keith, I think there is a good chance that the Southern Pride coalition will hold onto this territory as there are no other males with a similar or greater strength wanting to challenge them. It could be interesting to see if any of the males injure themselves or die as a result of a potential conflict with the remaining Mapogos, however as I mentioned above, the only pressure that they will realistically face may come the Majingilane, who already have a massive territory and probably won’t be looking for any more just yet.

    Keith Cox says:

    Thanks for the info Rich . Keith

    Bader says:

    Thank you. I know this has nothing to do with this subject, but, whatever happened to Solo (Tsalala Male)? any news on him?

    Rich Laburn says:

    We are not 100% sure of his movements, however we do know that he is in the southern parts of the Sabi Sands Game Reserve.

    anthony says:

    Last reported Solo and his 2 partners were eating on a mother elephant who died giving birth. They had eaten the calf and were begining on the mother. Half tail is looking much better then he did weeks back, when he looked skin over bones. Hope these guys grow into kings.

    AL says:

    Hard to believe that they push into territories just because of pressure from other coalitions. The Mapogos were under no pressure yet wiped out so many lions in SS. The Matimbas have grown into superbly formidable lions, and will announce themselves soon.

    Peter says:

    It will take a long time for the lion population to recover in the Western Sector. A lot will depend on how the take over of the Ximungwe Pride and Ottawa Pride is going to play out. We have seen that too many times, the females will try to avoid and protect their cubs. Option 1 is they start a nomadic life, leaving their territory and bumping into other prides, with casualties on both sides. Option 2 is their try to defend their cubs and get beaten up themselves, some may succumb to the inflicted injuries. Esp. young males get over the top at times while trying to establish themselves. The Mapogos killed countless adult females in the process, even the Majingilanes killed some females along the way.

    There are only 7 adult females in the Western Sector, with 3 moving in and out in the north-east (the Ottawas) … and with one female not being seen for quite some time now. The biggest concern is to lose even more of the breeding females. Well, there is option 3. The females give up on their offspring and start a new cycle with the new males. This is what the 2 Tsalala Sisters did, while the original tailless (BB) took care of the youngsters.

    I also think the Southern Males will stay in the Western Sector, lets hope so. There is another prize to win a bit further north-east, Simbambili-Elephant Plains-Arathusa, being the 4 young Tsalala Females. They Southern Males have been up there occasionally. The 2 Nkuhumas may struggle to keep them away and it seems the Majingilanes have given up this turf (at least as long as the Sparta females are ready to mate). It will be interesting to observe.

    It seems the Matimbas are checking out their southern boundaries, they have a huge territory (even bigger than Majingilane Kingdom), but not many females to bond with. But it also seems they are splitting up most of the time. The Majingilanes should be able to deal with them.

    Solo and the 2 young Eyrefield/Sparta Males are at Nottens feeding on a dead elephant.

    AL says:

    Oddly enough, I had this debate with a few people and they believed that all the coalitions were quite content where they were. Days before the Mapogo death, the Majingilanes were mapped a few kms from the roaring Matimbas in Djuma and the Southerners were a few kms away from the Mapogos. There’s way too many big coalitions, young, strong and headed to prime. A couple of Matimbas really stand out.

    Paul says:

    There is still two big mapogos living dont forget that. Makhulu and Pretty Boy are still in good shape maybe they will find som younger males to start a new coalition?

    We have The lion Notch he did team up with his sons…..The mapogos could team up with their sons the Otthawa boys…..

    Devin says:

    Is it spelled Makulu or Makhulu? And has there been any sightings of the 2 remaining Mapogos after the Southern coalition takeover?

    Kk says:

    Interesting dynamics. But the end of an era. It was interesting to see Mr T stand up for himself-the 4 southerners were rather cautious attacking him-makes me wonder if the other two stayed, could the outcome have been different?

    It certainly is tough to be a male lion.

    Ammad says:

    From the recent pictures that i have looked at, Makulu looks pretty old. I’m not sure i agree that he’s still in good shape. And remember that PB sustained those injuries while fighting the southern boys a few weeks ago. The fact that they left Mr. T to die by himself pretty much confirms that we won’t be hearing from the remaining Mapogos ever again.


    Adam says:

    It is with an incredible mixture of emotions that I have just learnt the news of the death of Satan/Mr T. I am currently in New Orleans so am very removed from the happenings of the bush and feel sad that I will never again see this magnificent male. His, and his brothers contribution to the lion dynamic in the Sabi Sands will forever be remembered. I don’t have time to comment now but when I return to Londolozi I will definitely try put something together and give my 2 cents worth on what this big day may mean. Who knows by the time I return to work the picture may be a little more clear?

    Oscar says:

    Wow amazing video
    Mr.T brothers are chicken,they should fight Beside Him,but they choose to flee.
    is hard to see those who are all the life by your side,let you die alone
    is sad.
    RIP Mr.T

    William Wang says:

    Mapogos are too old to protect their territory. It is nature. But sad.

    William (from China)



    Keith Cox says:

    Hi Rich in the the pre Mapogo era ,as the main article says there were several different prides and three or four different males, did those males stick to their own patches or did they journey into each others areas and have skirmishes , and were the Mapogos nomads in true sense of the word as they never seemed to stick any where for long, they seemed to live for the sole purpose of creating mayhem and murder where ever they went ,and in most cases of take overs dont the males prefer to stick around, doesnt having a resident male or males ensure a peaceful envirement for the long term . thanks .Keith

    maxine says:

    In reply to Keith’s question about dynamics before the Mapogo, I was a guide at Londolozi for 10 years from 1997 to 2006 and I can say that having witnessed a few coalitions and take overs in that time, I have never experienced anything like the Mapogo. The coalitions (one being a coalition of five males) dominant at Londolozi during that time all had fairly stable territories, stayed with their females a lot and did a pretty good job of defending their young. Yes therter was conflict, but it was expected conflict, like when they met up with young nomads moving through the territory, or when coalition members got old and take overs occurred. For the most part the territories were stable and the females and prides flourished. The biggest threat to lions during my time in the Sabi Sands was bovine tuberculosis, which was rife in some prides, and poaching/illegal hunting, which sadly even a place as well policed as the sabi sands, is not immune to. Thanks for keeping us old guides updated on the goings on in the Sands!

    Keith Cox says:

    Thanks Maxine what a wonderful time you must have had when the lion prides were up to strength,it seems as if the females have been decimated by the Mapogos all over ,and i wonder if there is enough to recover they all seem splintered and have begun to behave like nomads to stay safe ,thanks for the info Maxine . Keith

    Sue Edmunds says:

    I’m so glad we can come to the Londolozi website and read the Wildlife Diary for a balanced perspective about these events. Thanks Rich and thanks also for the in depth background info.

    Kevin Baker says:

    I was at Arathusa exactly two years ago and had the good fortune to get to know Mr T and Kinky Tail over the 4 day period. They were so battled scared especially Mr T who had massive wounds to his face. They had become legends of that area and i was very sad to hear the end of Kinky Tail by the claws of the Majingilanes. I have been wondering for months what has become of Mr T and now have finally learnt of his fate. You live by the sword and die by the sword but am still very very sad to hear of his demise. RIP old Mr T.

    Patrick says:

    Dont blame Makulu and Pretty boy when they left Mr T behind. Remember when Mr T tried to rescue Kinky Tail from the coalition of 4 lions, Mr T too has to flee as they were too many and strong.

    Bader says:

    At least M.T jumped in and actually gave one of the Majingis a good beating before realizing he was outnumbered. But Makulu and PB didn’t even attempt to fight and simply ran. Who knows how different the outcome would’ve been if they stayed and fought. I personally don’t believe that a 4 vs 3 battle would result in a lion dying.

    Then again I don’t blame them for fleeing either. PB was already injured by them and Makulu seems to be too old to fight.

    James Hebert says:

    and once again as others pointed out…none of us were there to see the logistics of the entire encounter. Perhaps Mr. T got caught slipping and there was no time to help him. Perhaps Mak and PB were losing also and then had to run after Mr. T. was already doomed with a broken back. Maybe T was overconfident and set out to show the young guys a lesson for injuring PB and things didn’t work out as he envisioned. Easy for humans to sit back and analyze something, but we don’t know exactly what went down or how it went down and the old guys wouldn’t have stood a chance at any rate. But you guys keep on figuring out how the minds of lions work during battle, it is amusing at the very least to sit back and read it all. *1st post ever, longtime follower of African lion coalitions even before the mighty Mapogo’s were raising hell*

    Al says:

    You need to calm down James. A lot of people here have been avid followers of the great coalitions of Sabi Sands and are well informed through the various websites, blogs and FB pages. Lots of perspectives and opinions so there’s nothing amusing about it except you whose posted here for the first time.

    It was observed the Selatis rushed the Mapogos at which point the older males turned and fled, leaving T. That was the word from experienced rangers who also mentioned T led the advance, which proved fatal for him.

    Kristofferson Lopez Plata says:

    I’m not quite sure how this coalition works. Are these new Southern Pride Coalition going to take all the pride that are available at the Western Sector of the Sabi Sands? I thought lions had prides of their own, and if males of different prides see each other, they will fight and kill each other in order to gain more members for their pride. Once this Southern Pride coalition is established or have settled down, will they split up and have their own prides to take care of? I mean, will these 4 members of the Majingilane males split up and form their own pride or will they be in one BIG pride themselves and dominate the Western Sector? I’m curious

    Adam Bannister says:

    I think the 4 southern pride males will take over the land in the western sector of the Sabi Sand which includes 2 prides of females. They will kill off the cubs and then mate and sire their own with these 2 prides. In my opinion they will keep together as 4 so as to remain strong against a possible attack from the 4 majingilane males. The Majingilane currently hold about 25000 hectares of land which includes 4 prides. Hope this brief description answers your question. If you spend some time reading some of the older pieces I have written on lion warfare and dynamics you may get a better understanding

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