I started working on a map to show the various areas in which the different prides of Londolozi and its surrounds have been operating, but gave up very quickly as there has been significant overlap in each respective pride’s area of operation. Ok maybe not as much as all that, but things have changed so much over the last year that I feel to put out a map would be to attempt to assign some sort of permanence to each prides’ movements, and as we’ve seen, this has been far from the case.

The Sparta pride continue to be conspicuous by their absence. Although it was initially the drought that saw them spending so much time hunting along the Sand River to the east of our boundary, the movement into the area of the six-strong Mhangeni Breakaway pride has most likely seen the Sparta females lose their hold on the central and southern areas of Londolozi. Although putting in an appearance every few weeks, there has been no consistency in the viewing of these lions. The situation may change at any time, but it is sad in some ways that we don’t encounter them as often as we used to, as this pride has been viewed for over 40 years on the reserve.


The distinctive pale Sparta lioness with two cubs in the background.

The Mhangeni Breakaway pride are denning their first litters to the east of Londolozi, but with the cubs barely a few weeks old, it will most likely be a while before the lionesses bring them onto Londolozi. The pride currently consists of six lionesses, the three young males having split off a few months back. They make regular forays onto Londolozi soil, and with the birth of their cubs are more than likely going to be taking up more permanent residence around the Sand River along our eastern borders where they are currently spending most of their time.


Three Mhangeni Breakaway females and a young male watch an nyala bull on the riverbank.

The original Mhangeni pride put in occasional appearances around our western areas; particularly around Ximpalapala koppie and down to the Sand River, where they have still been hunting buffalo with a startling frequency. The Majingilane males are often with them.


One of the Tsalala lionesses looks back in the direction she came from, possibly hearing another lion roaring in the distance.

The Tsalala pride continue to be the mainstay of our lion viewing, with the two adult lionesses and their five cubs moving between the Sand and Manyelethi rivers, spending a lot of time around the Londolozi camps. Although they used to be in company with the Matimba males fairly often, this coalition has been spending less and less time with the Tsalala females; maybe pushed east by the increased presence of the Majingilane, or maybe they have simply been spending more and more of their time with the Mhangeni Breakaway females.

The Tsalala breakaway pride are the final piece in the puzzle, and continue to pose questions as to what will happen in the near future. Will the tailless female and young lioness rejoin the rest of the Tsalala pride or will they remain split? How soon will the young males go off on their own? Surely their departure is imminent?


The future uncertain for the three young males of the Tsalala Breakaway pride.

2016 saw some big changes in the lion dynamics of Londolozi, and 2017 is likely to prove no different; with two ageing coalitions holding the fort and a host of young cubs in the area, anything could happen…


Filed under Lions 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 A Matter of Pride: Lions Into 2017

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Mike Ryan

Great blog James I always am fascinated by the constant change

GM Majingilane

great article .How is the injured Tsalala female doing ?Will she recover

Amy Attenborough

She’s doing well thank you and is moving without any trouble. It’s likely that she’ll make a full recovery.

Laura Eberly

Thank you James, the Lions are captivating! May you and Londolozi have a Blessed 2017!

Jill Larone

Great update on the lion dynamics, James! I hope the Tailless female and young lioness will rejoin the Tsalala pride. She’s done an incredible job keeping the three young males safe, but it’s time for them to venture on now and it would be great to see her join back up with the Tsalala pride again. Thank you for an amazing year of stunning pictures and beautifully written blogs and I wish everyone a very happy New Year and health, happiness and peace for 2017!


how old are the 3 tsalala males?

Amy Attenborough

Hi Odie. They were born in September 2013.


thanks you

Callum Evans

An insightful read

Regards. Rocco Rossouw

Lovely Lions. Always a joy to behold.

Callum Evans

From what I can gather, this year seems to be have been much more prone to sudden change than most. Other areas I’ve looked at before have some level of permanence, but they also underwent periods of change too. I’m curious to know if this year is normal for Londolozi, or is it an unusual case study?

Connect with Londolozi

Follow Us

Sign up for our Newsletters

One moment...
Add Profile