Last week we released a post on the Tsalala Pride and their tree-climbing efforts in the attempt to rob the Ximpalapala young female leopard of a kill. This week the news broke of the sad demise of the Older Tailless lioness. While filming her attempts at tree climbing only a short while ago, I did not imagine it would be some of the last footage ever captured of her.

As Tom Imrie wrote in his recent post, her passing was not premature. She was an old lioness, who had weathered the storms that life and the intense lion dynamics of the Sabi Sands had thrown at her. In fact, given the turmoil she had witnessed and endured over her 15 years, it is surprising that she even survived this long. I guess that a Londolozi and a Tsalala pride without her presence just seems that little bit diminished.

The Tsalala pride have certainly had a tough 10 days. After the loss of their mother, the two sisters and the sub-adult have been seen together a number of times. The tailed female is lactating, but where she is secreting her latest litter we are not sure. Tom Imrie followed her to the Manyelethi river near Doc’s Crossing last week and heard the mewing noises of at least two cubs emanating from out of an island of debris from January’s floods, but no-one has yet caught a glimpse of them and the mother may have moved den-sites.
The tailless sister has been mating with both the Dark-maned and Scar-nosed Majingilane, but we will only know in a couple of months if this mating has been successful or not.
The trials and tribulations of the Sub-adult continue, as she has been chased and mauled a number of times over the last fortnight by the big males. Although older now, and standing up to the males more and more with each passing week, she is nevertheless massively outgunned should it come to a full-on brawl, and only 4 days ago she had to flee for her life as all four of the Majingilane chased her through the riverine thickets along the Sand River near Finfoot Crossing.

The pride was found this morning on the banks of the Manyelethi River, lying only 100m from the Munghen Pride, who were oblivious to their presence. The Munghen pride had been feeding on a Zebra the night before, and given the tracks, the positions and conditions of the lions and the presence of two rival clans of hyenas, we think it likely that the Munghen pride were chased off the kill by the Tsalala lionesses, who were subsequently chased off by the hyenas. Pure speculation, buts it’s as close as we can get…

The sub-adult at least looked like she has had a good feed, as 2 days ago when found in the Sand River in front of Varty camp she was skin and bones. Each meal is a lifesaver for this unfortunate young lionesss.

We’ll be following the fortunes of the pride even more closely from now on, but for today, as promised a short while ago, here is the footage of the Tree-climbing Tsalala pride:

A more unusual lion sighting I cannot remember, and I will look back on it with fondness as one of the last times I saw the older tailless female; still committed to the pride, right up until the end.

Written and filmed by James Tyrrell

Filed under Guests Wildlife

About the Author

James Tyrrell

Photographic Guide/Media Team

James had hardly touched a camera when he came to Londolozi, but his writing skills were well developed, and he was quickly snapped up by the Londolozi blog team as a result. An environment rich in photographers helped him develop the photographic skills ...

View James's profile


on The Tsalala Saga – An Update

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nancy armitage

As the old tailless lioness seems to be so special to so many I was wondering if there could be a more tangible way to remember her. Perhaps have a scholarship named after her by the Good Works Foundation. Or are their other ideas along this line?


I think that something people to contribute to in her name would be wonderful. Knowing how many people were touched by her life, why not bring something good of it and organize a fund/scholarship for Good Works or some other cause that would honor her?

Geri Potter

So sad to say goodbye to any being who has been so nurturing. I hope she has a wonderful welcome from all those who came before, and a peaceful forever in the ‘after Londolozi’! She was an amazing Mama! XO BB, sleep sweet!


So sad to see her go. She will be missed. RIP!

thelma aleman

Why the young female has been attacked by these males?

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