It was always going to be the Hip Scar male.

The outsider. The one with the limp. The one whose calls often went unanswered by the rest of his coalition.

I remember a morning in which we found him roaring not far from our western boundary. He was slowly moving westwards, stopping regularly to listen. We had heard over the radio that the Scar-nosed and Dark-maned males were a couple of kilometres away, further west, marching relentlessly back into what had become their newly established territory after the foursome had vacated Londolozi, but nary a call did we or the Hip-scar male hear from the two of them. They continued on in silence, seemingly intent on ignoring the distant vocalizations of their brother trailing far behind them.

HIp Scar majingilane manyelethi JT

The Hip-scar male often walked alone. Here he crosses the sandy Manyelethi riverbed, following the trail of the Tsalala pride.

It had often been like this over the preceding months. As the four Majingilane had slowly released their stranglehold on the central Sabi Sands, moving into the western sector and overthrowing the younger Selati males, the Hip scar male had often found himself isolated, and if three members of the coalition were found together, he was invariably not one of them.

3 majingilane JT

L to R: The Missing canine, Dark-maned and Scar-nosed Majingilane. After almost seven years of dominating the Sabi Sands reserve, it has inevitably been these three of the four who are found together more often than not, particularly over the last few seasons as they move into the twilight of their years.

Why this was we have no way of knowing for sure. I know lion dynamics can be complicated at best, and the what and why are often obscured behind layers of conflicting factors, but the fact remains that the Hip-scar male was more of a loner than the rest. Maybe his chronically injured ankle rendered him less effective on patrol; perhaps this weakness was sensed by the other three and they chose to keep him in a state of semi-ostracism. Who can say for sure?

Whatever the case, the Hip-Scar male, when I saw him last, was all alone and to be quite frank, teetering on the brink. He lay with ribs showing, a severe gash stretching from his hip into his groin, with his face pressed into thick grass, not lifting his head when our vehicle arrived.

Majingilane ear grass JT

The Hip-scar male lies wasting away in the long grass; sporadic ear flicks and the rise and fall of his chest were the only indications that he was still alive.

His breathing was shallow, and his gaunt hips were sure indicators of his weakened state.
This was over 72 hours ago, and although he has recovered from being in very poor condition before this, his advancing age would make each successive recovery harder and longer, and sadly I don’t see a way back for him this time.

I have not heard an update yet, but as I write this – and I hope that I am wrong – the Hip-Scar Majingilane may well have already become the first of this mighty coalition to die.

majingilane

The Hip-scar male lies at the back of the coalition in this picture. The fact that his gaze is in a different direction to the other three males is eerily symbolic of his status as the loner of the group.

I wasn’t in the sighting, but a couple of weeks ago he was found very close to a buffalo kill that the Matimba males were feeding on, with the Mhangeni pride nearby, and he was already looking the worse for wear. No-one saw it take place, but fresh wounds on his spine and flanks seem to indicate a clash during the night, most likely with the two Matimba males. So much of lion behaviour takes place under cover of darkness when there is no one around to witness it, so we cannot make any firm statements, but it is certainly possible that it was the Matimba males that have pushed him towards his final demise.

I will wait for an update on his condition, but given that the rest of the Majingilane were nowhere near him and the Mhangeni pride was also not in the vicinity, it is extremely unlikely he will be able to get a meal that will help him to recover this time.

The unpredictable nature of things in the bush ensured that there was no way we could have guessed that seven years after their arrival, the Majingilane would still be here. We did hazard a guess, however, that when the end came the Hip Scar male would be the first to go.

As is often the case with lion predictions, I hope I am mistaken, and that even as I pen these words he is feeding on a buffalo and slowly regaining his strength.

My heart though, tells me that his luck – and time – have run out.

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 ...

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35 Comments

on The Beginning of the End for the Majingilane

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Merten York
Guest

Never seen a male lose courage terrible. Recently northern was worse than hipscar for over a year. But recovered. Cause he took part in everything.

GM Majingilane
Guest

no no hope its not true

sau
Guest

i feel just bad for this outcast . one wonders why ?

Tony C.
Guest

Thank you for such great work!! Every time I read your stories, I feel as I am there in Africa. Please keep us posted as the cirlcle of life continues. Thank you

Jill Larone
Guest

James, I can’t put into words the sadness that I feel as I read your post — sadness for Hip-scar’s solitary life, that he has possibly died all alone and the beginning of the end of this great coalition of beautiful, strong Lions. I was privileged to have spent a few hours one morning in 2013, watching this incredible Lion as he patrolled Londolozi by himself — a mere few hours that I will remember for a lifetime.

Odie
Guest

Hi! I saw a picture of HS Majingilane from instagram it was uploaded 1 day ago https://www.instagram.com/p/BQD-zSJjab1/?taken-by=whenwomantravels let’s hope for the best

Wendy Hawkins
Guest

This is sad news as the Majingi’s have always been “there”, but judging from the pictures, they are all looking old, but the other three are faring well for now! Hoping for better news. Thank you James

Vinay Siri
Guest

Well done Matimbas

Mike C
Guest

Wow that was hard read. This is so incredibly sad if true

Tim Musumba
Guest

The Majingilane have always played it safe when it comes to facing off their rivals by using numbers to fight off other Male lions.They have been around for quite a while but eventually their time has to come to an end some day.It is just that i never would have expected that one off the Majingilane might go out because he was having an injury and could not keep up with the rest.It is usually in a fight with other males is what is mostly the case than isolation from the coalition and loss of condition!

Susan Farrington
Guest

Oh, my heart always aches to hear these inevitable stories. Live in the African bush is beautiful, but brutal and unforgiving. I always feel such a sadness for the top predators when they are nearing or reach their end, but it is all part of it. Why is it so heart wrenching? But thank you for always keeping us in the loop, “good” and “bad”.

Susan Farrington
Guest

…”Life”…

Barbara Weyand
Guest

Oh so saddening to read, but end of life is part of life’s glorious circle.

Lea
Guest

Thanks for this article James. Life in the bush is pretty hard on predators and pray. Sad that this old warrior may not make it this time and, sad also that his brothers seem to have abandoned him. Such is the “Circle of Life”.

Laura Eberly
Guest

It will be the end of an era for sure!

Mike D
Guest

It seems strange he would voluntarily leave the comfort, safety and security of his powerful coalition especially with their advanced age and presence of other coalitions in the area. They were a powerful dynasty of true kings in their prime. It’s disheartening to see him fragmented from his brothers tettering on the brink by himself. Hopefully. He hangs on to join his brothers once again. Please keep us updated.

Wendy MacNicol
Guest

We have never been to Londolozi but because we receive a virtual safari every morning, we feel we almost know the Magingis. Terribly sorry to read about poor Hip Scar. Hope he doesn’t have a slow and painful death. A miracle may happen and he may recover this time, but it doesn’t sound as if it will. Poor old lion. Wendy M

Daisy
Guest

the lions seem to have an efficient system. there is no such thing as care for the old. it’s just all too natural. they do develop affections but there is no social norms to reinforce that (like a human society). anyway 4 male lion coalition seems to large amount of males. how many offsprings have they fathered at the moment?

Georgel
Guest

Update from Rob at Idube: “Last night four Majingilanes were reported to be with the Mhangeni pride”.

James Tyrrell

Thanks George.
I know the three others have been with the Mhangeni pride. Whether the fourth was there or not is unsubstantiated at the moment but we are trying to find out.

Bennet Abraham
Guest

There is online chatter on FB and other forums that a ranger (Rob) with Idube has seen Hipscar and all his brothers along with the Mhangeni Pride. Can anyone substantiate this? Can’t bear to lose any of those magnificent boys.

James Tyrrell

Thanks Bennet,
We are trying to confirm this.

Cynthia House
Guest

The course of nature continues without fear or favour. I too felt great sadness for this old lion who probably had to struggle a lot harder than his brothers to survive due to his injury. He has also probably left an indelible memory to all who had the privilege to know him and watch him patrol his turf always watching for the inevitable day he would be overpowered. Thank you for your wonderful and captivating stories of life and the animals in the bush.

Jenifer Westphal
Guest

Thanks for the update James – we saw this Male at the buffalo kill you spoke of, and we thought he was dead then! I’m shocked you saw him alive (barely) just 72 hours ago. Freddy was very sad – he loves the Magingilanes! As do I – they’ve been a part of every trip to Londoz! 😢

bingo
Guest

Rob is saying he didn’t see them he is forwarding a report do confirm londolozi what is going on and post on facebook to put to rest all rumors we are counting on you

Ezequiel
Guest

He was seen today In Idube. The wounds seem to be healing up, and although he’s not looking good( which is understandable), he’s still holding on.

https://www.facebook.com/rtrwildlifevideos/photos/a.10151781801772591.1073741825.164114072590/10154914682662591/?type=3&theater

Robb Pana
Guest

Love the blog! Is there another Londolozi site / blog where we can get more info? Or even a collective site between several parks? These sites are excellent–sadly too few and far in between. Whenever I look for info, I have to filter the garbage sites out. The last site I looked at was a “wildlife / lion forum” where a moderator named himself “Majingilane” and said rangers are “biased and unreliable”. So yeah if there is one, please post.

Jamie
Guest

Sad news hearing of the hip scar males solidarity, as a foursome they are formidable but going down to 3, would be a definite negative on there side, just as the mapogos, split into a 2 and a 3, that eventually was there downfall, and of course old age, 2 great coalitions of male lions

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