Having just returned from a two week break, I have spent the last week catching up with the lion dynamics at Londolozi and there certainly have been a few movements whilst I was away.

The Mhangeni breakaways have been spending a lot more time on our property over the past few weeks, slightly further south and east of their four mothers who are still frequenting their “normal” territory. This movement east has meant that they have been encountering the Matimba males much more frequently. With these more frequent encounters, it has meant that the three young males from the Mhangeni breakaway pride have been under pressure to leave the young females, as their presence is a direct threat to the Matimba’s reign. The young females seem to be getting used to the idea of the older dominant males, even having shared a few meals. There has even been mating between one or two of the females with the Matimba males — could there potentially be cubs on the horizon for this new breakaway pride, sired by the Matimbas? Only time will tell.

Another very interesting change is the presence of a young male on his own. It appears he is one of the young Talamati males who was separated from his brothers recently in a fight with the Charleston males.  He has also been spending time with the breakaway pride and the Matimba males (who are his fathers and the only reason he hasn’t been driven off by them). Having said that though, he is still giving the group a wide berth, not really being fully accepted anywhere.

There was a very interesting interaction two days ago between the Mhangeni breakaways, the new young male, Matshipiri males and Matimba males. The six females from the Mhangeni breakaway pride had ventured very far south and east on our property with the two Matimba males, and the new young male tagging along at a distance. This was the first time either the pride or the coalition had ventured this far south and east. This meant that they were very close to the boundary of the Matshipiri males’ territory. They managed to make a kill and finish it off rather quickly between the nine of them. The Matimba males left the pride that night and moved further west to patrol their territory, whilst the females (and Talamti male) stayed for a few hours longer, sleeping off their rather large meal. When we managed to locate the pride on the morning game drive, they were slowly starting to head west again, back towards the heart of their usual territory. What they didn’t know though, was that the two Matshipiri males had picked up on their scent and were trailing them, rather quickly. At this point in the morning the two Matimba males had settled down quite a bit further west and had some shade that it seemed they were planning to spend the remainder of the day under. After about 20 minutes of trailing the pride the Matshipiri males caught up with them and mayhem ensued.

They ran into the pride with serious force, lions scattered everywhere. Luckily for the pride and young male, none of them were caught and all managed to escape unscathed. After a short while the Matshipiri’s decided they had enforced their dominance and decided to slowly head back east. Only five of the pride members managed to join up again, with one of the females and the young male finding themselves alone. We did find them later that afternoon, and both were untouched, but no doubt slightly rattled. At the time of all the commotion, the Matimba males heard the calling and growling and decided to investigate. They immediately got up and walked in the direction of the noise, calling every few minutes. They quickly picked up the scent of the Matshipiri males and started trailing them, calling all along. It seems the Matshipiri males must have felt slightly out of territory as they turned back east and swiftly returned. The Matimba males eventually caught sight of the two other males and chased them over our boundary with our neighbours and stopped in their tracks on the road — no doubt the territorial boundary between these two coalitions. Both coalitions then vocalised, announcing their territories, but not willing to venture over the imaginary line.

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The young Talamati male trailing the pride and the Matimba males. Despite having been fathered by the Matimba coalition, this lion is wary and tends to hang back from the group. Photograph by Alistair Smith.

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The young lionesses of the Mhangeni breakaway pride, oblivious to the Matshipiri males trailing them. Photograph by Alistair Smith.

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The Talamati male, once again lagging a few paces behind the rest of the pride. Photograph by Alistair Smith.

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A young Mhangeni lioness marches purposefully towards water. Photograph by Alistair Smith.

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Photograph by Alistair Smith.

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Two of the young lionesses quench their thirst after digesting their meal. Photograph by Alistair Smith.

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Photograph by Alistair Smith.

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The mayhem begins! The Matshipiri males spot the pride and start to chase. Photograph by Alistair Smith.

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Photograph by Alistair Smith.

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With lions scattering everywhere, the Matshipiri males manage to assert their dominance over the breakaway pride and the young male. Photograph by Alistair Smith.

1/640 at f/2.8; ISO 1000.

The dark-maned Matimba male surveys his territory from a rocky outcrop. Photograph by Sean Cresswell.

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One of the young Mhangeni females looks back as the pride hears the distant calls of their fathers in the west – the Majingilane males. Photograph by Sean Cresswell.

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One of the Mhangeni lionesses scans from atop a termite mound, a member of what has now become somewhat of a super pride. Photograph by Sean Cresswell.

As of yesterday morning, the breakaways had rejoined the original Mhangeni pride, making them a pride of 22! Will this last or will they be forced to split once again? What does the movement of the Matimbas eastward mean for the Matshipiri males in the future? Could they be pushed further east, or will they put pressure back on the Matimbas? What is the future of the new young Talamati male? Will he re-find his brothers or will he continue to tag along with the pride. When will the Mhangeni young males eventually be forced to leave their sisters permanently and what direction will they choose to go?

We certainly cannot answer these questions now, but we do know that there are some exciting times ahead for the lion dynamics at Londolozi.

Filed under Lions Wildlife

About the Author

Kevin Power

Field Guide

Kevin hails from the small town of George, but we try not to hold that against him... After obtaining a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Finance at the University of Stellenbosch, Kev realised that town life wasn't for him for the moment, and ...

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22 Comments

on Lion Update: Matimbas, Mhangheni breakaways & the Matshipiris.

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Edward B Murphy
Guest

could the young unknown male be ‘junior’ from the Nkuhuma’s?

Don
Guest

how come the Mangheni males not yet leaving their pride? hopefully the young male could joined the mangheni males. The Mangheni pride will become mega pride once those cubs matured, it reminds me of Nkuhuma pride before the Mapogos whittled them.

scott stevens
Guest

Great write up guys really awesome. I think the young male is a talamati who some suspected dead after a dust up with the Charleston males. He has two other brothers but must have been separated during the fight. His brothers are around kirkmans last i heard. He is a matimba son and hopefully finds his brothers again its been sometime now.

Jim & Kathy Bearden
Guest

Excellent photo’s of the lions in today’s blog. We can’t wait to get to londolozi so we can see them for real in person. You guys do an outstanding job keeping us informed by reading your blog.

Brenda Sedberry
Guest

Wonderful update and photos. Hope you enjoyed your break, Kevin. I’m looking forward to returning. In the meantime, I know you’re taking good care of my father’s Gator cap. Say hi to Life for me!

Loretta
Guest

Please take vacation more often, this was a great update! If that was the Ximungwe male then I hope he is able to bond with the Mhangeni males since he deserves a break in life. I love the picture of the lioness listening to her fathers’ roars from the west. Sounds like we are in for a lot of lion activity on our next visit! I can’t wait 🙂

John Cyrus
Guest

Matimbas yet chase Matshapiri again. Love the greatest males of sabi sands.

Petrit Jahiri
Guest

Amazing, thanks for all this.

Liam
Guest

Great blog. Not sure it’s the X male but looks like one of the Talimati young males, perhaps he one that was serrated recently from his brothers?

Brad Fox
Guest

The young male is one of the talamati males. son of matimba. He was beaten by charleston and separated from his brothers.

Maria
Guest

Marimbas have now chased every coalition they have faced. Best ever

Alex Sindal
Guest

Great blog. And Matimbas great males. Reason why Matimba males are the most popular on internet.

Ajay Varma
Guest

Thanks for update. Love matimbas. Do you think they can defeat Birmingham males?

Ranger
Guest

We have not seen one of the mibri young males recently. This unidentified male could be him. His face resembles Matimbas. And most important is the Matimbas behavior towards him

Scott Sebastian
Guest

Thanks for the great lion updates.But was wondering about the status of the Majingilane males.Have they left
Londolozi for good.Are they still all alive.Are they no longer considered a dominant coalition.Just wondering what happened to them since there is little news about them.

sau
Guest

i feel really bad for the young male . hope he will be accepted at last.

Matimbas - The Greatest
Guest

Kevin! I am sure you have seen both of these coalitions and has spend good time with them. I want to know which coalition males are bigger, Matshapiri oatimbas?

Jill Larone
Guest

Great lion update Kevin! I agree, odd that the Matimbas are tolerating the young lone male — could he be a Matimba son? It’s nice to hear the Majingilane are still out there…I would love to see them again. I think they are one of the smartest coalitions — very carefully choosing their battles and all still surviving and still a force to be reckoned with, although, sadly, coming into the twilight of their lives. Thanks Kevin, for the great Lion update and fantastic pictures!

barbara jones
Guest

This is exciting. Can’t wait to see what happens!

MJ Bradley
Guest

This one is too young to be Junior and his mane is much to sparse.

MJ Bradley
Guest

Thank you for the wonderful lion update.. Good to hear the Matimbas are still holding their own.

Andrea Dorethy
Guest

Great story it was as if i was there watching it as it unfolded. Thanks for keeping us informed i have been following some of these prides for about two years and the info you provide us with lets me know my favorites are still doing well again thanks for all you do

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