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.
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.
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.
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.