One of the first things that fascinated me when I started guiding at Londolozi was the lion pride dynamics and working with tracker, Freddy Ngobeni, it was something I started learning about immediately. Upon my arrival, the Matimba male lions had established territory around the Londolozi Camps, a place that had previously been held by the Majingilane males. Although the Matimbas roared to mark their territory, it was rather sporadic and something that countless staff members mentioned was that when the Majingilane held this territory, they could be heard roaring from the airstrip almost every night. So a few nights ago, when this coalition of three were back on the Londolozi airstrip, I planned to spend the evening with them, hoping to hear what all the fuss was about.

Manjingi air sunset-2184

The calm before the storm. A Manjigilane male settles down on the airstrip with the magical sunset in the background.

The Majingilane coalition were left sleeping in the shade of a Tamboti tree thicket that morning in very close proximity to the airstrip. Needing absolutely no persuasion, Freddy Ngobeni jumped at the idea of potentially viewing the Majingilane brothers roaring on the airstrip as night began to fall.

We opted to gradually explore around the nearby dams and water holes, enjoying the deafening snorts and groans from hippos in the water whilst the crocodiles basked on the sunny banks. Knowing that the Majingilane males would only start getting active once the heat of the day had subsided, we continued on slowly, watching herds of giraffe and zebra feeding on the lush vegetation whilst the sun slowly began to set. Having reiterated the pre-arranged plan to my guests throughout our drive, our tactically delayed arrival at the airstrip was exciting and the energy on the vehicle was palpable.

Heron sunset silh-2176

Whilst driving towards the airstrip, we could not resist stopping to appreciate a silhouette of a Grey Heron in the beautiful setting sun.

As we arrived at the airstrip, one of the males walked purposefully towards the tarmac and his brother proceeded to follow, I hoped that this was the moment! Sitting there in silence, we heard the faint and distant calls of the Matsipiri males south and east of us. The Majingilane perked their heads up, listening intently to the distant roars and it didn’t take long before the Majingilane brothers felt compelled to respond. Their gut-wrenching roars bellowed through the night sky and their echoes reverberated around us. The intensity of the sound that comes from three large male lions dotted around you is something to behold. It felt to me as though shivers were running straight through my bones and the sound thundered in my chest.

Majigi airstrip sun-2199

One the Manjigilane males listens intently to the distant roars of the other male coalitions.

As they quietened and the silence settled on us yet again, we heard even fainter calls of the Matimba males further up in the northern reaches of the Sabi Sands. Listening intently to the distant calls of both the Matsipiri and Matimba males, the Majingilane brothers continued to respond and were heard roaring around the vicinity of camp throughout the night. We were literally watching and hearing the trio of coalitions settling their disputes and establishing territorial boundaries in this aerial battle for supremacy. The beautiful setting sun and darkening skies made for a beautiful landscape, the perfect backdrop for this dream sighting and experience.

Filed under Lions Wildlife

About the Author

Callum Gowar

Field Guide

Growing up in Cape Town, the opposite end of South Africa from its main wildlife areas, didn't slow Callum down when embarking on his ranger training at Londolozi at the start of 2015. He had slowly begun moving north-east through the country anyway, ...

View Callum's profile

15 Comments

on To Feel a Lion’s Roar

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Vinay Kumar
Guest

Are the Matimba Males still around?

Amy Attenborough

Hi Vinay. No the Matimbas have not been seen on Londolozi in quite some time and we are unsure of their current position. Should we hear any reports or see them, we’ll let you know. Thanks, Amy

Odie
Guest

So nice! thank you

GM Majingilane
Guest

Where are the matimbas now have they left Sabi Sands ?

Amy Attenborough

Hi. We heard reports from a ranger in the northern Sabi Sands that these animals were as far north as Orpen Gate. This is unconfirmed though and at this stage we are not sure which Matimba males they were referring to. All we can report for sure is that they have not been on Londolozi in quite some time. Thanks, Amy

Trevor
Guest

A lifetime experience Callum and so well documented. It is an unbelievably exhilirating experience and I recall one night with the Mapoga pride right next to the vehicle. When they stopped roaring I found myself sitting right in the center of the seat next to my wife. The fierceness and vibration of their roar was so exceptional and loud in that dusk light I must have without realising what I was doing slid to the center of the seat, sort of self peservation. Had quite a good laugh about it back in camp. Will never forget that amazing experience. Best wishes Trevor

Mitch Wolf
Guest

Can’t wait until we return to Londolozi! Coming back for our second trip on April 7. It would be absolutely amazing to see this coalition roar! Hearing lions roar is one of the unforgettable experiences in the bush.

Catherine Millar
Guest

I will never forget the first time I heard a lion roar and at Londolozi. It was overwhelming, starting deep in their bellies and exploding into the night. What an amazing experience and not like the MGM lion at all!

Scott Sebastian
Guest

Callum,
Great story.Did the fourth Majingilane brother die or has he recovered from
looking like close to death like James Tyrrell reported back on Feb 5th.Who is the dominant
coalition since the years are catching up to the Majingilane.Is it the Matimbas or the Matsipiri or is there someone new.

Amy Attenborough

Hi Scott. As of this morning, Idube in the western sector of the Sabi Sands is reporting the death of Hip scar. They have found the carcass of a male lion and based on the recent movements of Hip Scar, are claiming that the remains are his. At the moment, it is hard to say who the dominant coalition are over Londolozi. The Majingilane are staying to the western reaches, Matimbas have moved north into northern Sabi Sands, Matshipiri are in the south and east and the Mantimahle coalition is quite far south of us. There is sure to be some movement in the coming weeks and months, which will be interesting for sure. We’ll keep you posted. Thanks, Amy

Georgel
Guest

Hi Amy. Please don’t forget about the Charlestons in Sabi Sabi.

Jill Larone
Guest

So happy to see and hear the Majingilane back on Londolozi again! Any word on how Hip Scar is doing, Callum? I hope the old warrior is recovering from his injuries and we will see him doing well again soon.

Georgel
Guest

Hip Scar is dead.

Vinay Kumar
Guest

Thanks Amy for reply. Is reunion between two matimba groups is possible? Have you ever seen lions reuniting after long time apart? Thanks

Jason_T
Guest

Hi Amy,

could you report about the status of the Prides and the cubs. If mantimahle go further north Tsalala, manhgeni, and all other Breakaway Prides will b in danger. could you report please about their status, thanks

Connect with Londolozi

Follow Us

Sign up for our newsletter

One moment...