September 2nd, 2015 was the day on which the first sighting of a Matimba male lion was officially recorded on Londolozi soil.

Although from their tracks we knew they’d been here before, it was only that night that fellow guide Dave Strachan and I were lucky enough to catch our first glimpse of the Hairy Bellied Matimba, walking across a clearing not too far from camp, moments before he took down an adult impala ewe.

Only a few days later, both males were seen together for the first time, found feeding a buffalo kill they had made near the Sand River.

Over the course of the next year these two males, split off from an original coalition of 6, would establish themselves on Londolozi soil, mating with the resident Tsalala pride and fathering the five cubs we currently see with the two lionesses. After the westward departure of the Majingilane in 2015, it took the Matimba males getting chased out of their northern territory by the Birmingham males to get them down into our area, which brought relative peace after a turbulent year of male lion activity. The Styx, Fourways and Matshipiri males had all attempted to stake a claim, but it was the arrival of the much larger Matimba pair that seemed to settle the issue. 

A hyena gives one of the Matimba males a wide berth. Photograph by Kevin Power

So what has happened now?

The Matimba males have vanished from the area, and the last reports we had were of them up near Orpen Gate in the Kruger Park. That’s around 50km away, which may not seem like a particularly big distance, but for a territorial lion it’s pretty far! The full Matimba coalition originated from the area, so it is certainly possible that the Londolozi pair have tried to reconnect with their original group. Why this might be so is anyone’s guess, which is why lion dynamics are so fascinating; the unknown adds to the intrigue. 

The large circle represents the Matimba males’ territory on Londolozi, the smaller one is roughly near where the last reports of them being seen was.

There was recent interaction between the Matimba males and Mhangeni Breakaway prides in the eastern sector of Londolozi, which we suspected could be due to the fact that those lionesses had been spending quite a bit of time mating with the Matshipiri coalition. That was on January 8th, and since then, the Matimba’s movements have been somewhat erratic. From moving deep into the south, far beyond Londolozi’s borders, they then turned back north, continuing right through Londolozi and disappearing up into the Manyelethi reserve from whence they originated. Not stopping there, they pressed on into the Kruger Park, and reports were that they were seen around the Orpen Gate area around the 21st February. Then on the 24th they were reportedly back in the northern Sabi Sands, vocalising at the Birmingham coalition, the males that had ousted them from the area. 

The lighter maned Matimba male trots in to investigate a Mhangeni Breakaway lioness. Photograph by James Tyrrell

Over the last few days the Mhangeni Breakaway females have been spending time with the Matshipiri males, and a number of mating pairs have been formed.
The Matshipiri males have been spending a lot more time on Londolozi soil than they previously have, but what does this mean for the two Matimba males? Have they simply headed off to find their old coalition? Were they chased by the Matshipiri males?
It seems conjecture is the only thing we can be sure of…

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 ...

More stories by James


on Where Have the Matimba Males Gone?
    Vinay Kumar says:

    Tintswalo Reported: Yesterday they were heard roaring between tintswalo and Ngala boundary. There other brothers have all been killed. Only one is reported alive. They are late.

    James Tyrrell says:

    Thanks Vinay, that’s interesting to hear…

    Bumblebee says:

    How can the matimba males be chased off by the matimba males? Are they afraid of their own shadows ? Haha! I hope that they are ok the birmingham boys have numbers on their side unless the matimba regroup full force all 6 of them?
    I believe that the matimba are very wise and know when to stay clear of a big threat like a 5 strong coalition especially the birmingham boys. The matimba 2 strong can only bide their time and take down one lion at a time as a 2 strong coalition like kinky tail and mr t with 1 majingilane .
    But get away whilst the loss is fresh and things cool down then return and commit to repeat the same move once again bringing their coalition down one by one.

    James Tyrrell says:

    Haha thanks for noticing that Typo; have changed it! Interesting to hear Vinay’s report that only one of the Northern Matimbas is still alive…

    Mike Ryan says:

    Fascinating stuff James, could it be they were nervous of the return of the Majingilane marking their territory on the airstrip as of old roaring at night. I read they had also had some close interaction between them and the Matshipiri males on Mala Mala before Christmas? Hope the Tsalala can keep their young away from the other coalitions.

    James Tyrrell says:

    Hi Mike,
    Yip I hear there have been some close encounters between the two coalitions on MM. Interesting times ahead…

    Shawn says:

    Matimbas are around 12 years old now. They should call it end and live silently. Their time is up. There are new rulers now.

    Kumar says:

    Please find out more about them

    Cameron says:

    Any idea where they are now

    Adil Art says:

    Please come back matimbas.

    Abbaas says:

    Maybe he Matimbas are beginning to realize that they need the support of their northern brothers if they are to establish a stable territory on Lonodlozi soil or the surrounding areas. That may explain why they suddenly headed north after exploring the south and realizing there were strong, estalished male lion coalitions in all directions. Perhaps the Matimbas were trying to accomplish something similar to what Mr T did back in 2010: fetching his western brothers when he realized he was outnumbered by the Majingilanes 4-1 in the east.

    Kathy says:

    Beautiful lions

    Kathy says:

    Beautiful lions I love keeping in touch

    Kathy says:

    Rest In Peace hip scar male youcare a true handsome lion

    Hsun says:

    Where is the northern matimba,thanks!

    James Tyrrell says:

    Hsun apparently only one is still alive, but that is a second hand report, and unconfirmed…

    GM/3 tooth Majingilane says:

    Come back dearest Matimbas do you have any more information after you wrote this article do tell us

    Mike Ryan says:

    Do let us know if you get more info

    James Tyrrell says:

    Will do!

    Perine says:

    Amazing how one can become so familiar with all these individual lions through your stories. I love reading all your blog posts but am especially happy when it is an update on the lions πŸ™‚
    Visiting Londolozi is on my bucket list unless of course, I win the Euro millions in which case I am booking the very first flight for an extended visit πŸ™‚
    Love reading your blog – thank you!

    Chris says:

    Hi James, is it possible that the matimbas are regrouping with the northern matimbas to go against the birmingham coalition?

    Chris says:

    Or even going against now the 3 majingianes

    Mike Ryan says:

    Been tracking lions again on the Web
    seems the 2 “Southern Matimbas” are in Tintswalo and the last “northern Matimba” is at Umlani Bush Camp. Speculation is they may join up but will they come back to Londo?

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