With the evidence conclusively pointing towards the Mhangeni Breakaway pride not rejoining with the adult Mhangeni females, the time has come to rename them as their own independent entity.

Traditionally, animals are named according to a feature of the territory they occupy, but since lions traverse such large areas over multiple reserves, we felt we wanted to go for more of a neutral name, and so going forward, we will refer to these lions as the Ntsevu Pride.

“Ntsevu” is a Shangaan word meaning “six”, and denotes the number of lionesses in the pride a the time of their official naming. Although the number of lions in the pride will certainly fluctuate going forward, their territory will most likely also shift in the future, and the name Ntsevu doesn’t limit them to being named after a feature/area just found on Londolozi.

During the height of the drought of 2016, the Ntsevu females, still with their brothers for much of that time, spent a a large portion of the year in and around the Sand River, hunting buffalo almost exclusively. Now that the grass has returned, they have been moving further afield, diversifying in their preferred prey species.

The lionesses continue to spend much time in the company of the two Matshipiri males along the eastern sections of the reserve, although they have been found on central Londolozi a few times over the last few weeks, hunting zebras with some success in the grassland areas. They have been fully independent from the original Mhangeni Pride (themselves a breakaway group) for some time now, and with the birthing of cubs a few months ago, the need for a new name was inevitable. Although the initial litter(s) was unsuccessful (it seems there have been no further sightings of the cubs), the fact that the lionesses have been mating consistently with the Matshipiri coalition means that in all likelihood we should be seeing new litters within the next few months.

Four of the lionesses on the move on one of the last occasions they were seen in company with the Matimba males.

With all the lionesses of a similar age, it is doubtful that there is one single lead female, as there usually is in older, more established prides. If there is, she has yet to be properly identified.

The fact that all the females are of similar ages bodes well for the future of the pride; reaching sexual maturity at roughly the same time suggests the possibility of litters being born in short succession, increasing the survival rate of the cubs through alloparenting. Alloparenting involves individuals caring for the offspring of others, not just their own, and it is partly for this reason that it is believed that lions evolved into the social cats that they are.

In the early period of their independence from the Mhangeni Pride, the Ntsevu females wandered far and wide. However, they now seem to have established themselves along the Sand River along Londolozi’s eastern sector and beyond. Photograph by Callum Gowar

Although independent from their mothers at an early age, the lionesses are proficient hunters, making full use of the terrain on offer.

Going forward, it seems the Matshipiri males are firmly in control of the areas to our east, but with the total abandonment of northern and central Londolozi by the Matimba males, it is anyone’s guess as to what will happen next with the dynamics in those regions.

The Tsalala young males are certainly too young to control territory, and are currently keeping a low-profile in the no-man’s land between the triangle of the Majingilane, Matshipiri and Birmingham coalitions.

With any changes in lion dynamics usually having a knock-on effect, any upheavals in the surrounding areas may well impact the current situation of the newly named Ntsevu Pride.

 

 

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

13 Comments

on Mhangeni Breakaway Pride Renamed
    Bader says:

    Nice…i like the name! MalaMala recently called them the Kambula pride!

    Rae says:

    About how old are they? Are they from the 2013 cubs?

    Mary Beth Wheeler says:

    How is Ntsevu pronounced?

    Darlene Knott says:

    Very interesting!

    Ale says:

    Why dont Londolozi and Mala Mala coordinate while naming them creating all the confusion they spend more time towards East Kambula should have been kept as a name and they named the pride first

    James Tyrrell says:

    Hi Ale,
    The two reserves employ different systems for naming the prides.
    There shouldn’t be any confusion going forward as each lodge has stated what they will refer to the pride as. Ntsevu/Kambula… same lions, same amazing life stories.
    Regards

    Heilie Uys says:

    Dear James, The Londolozi posts are my highlight of the day and yours in particular. You write with a caring loving attitude for the bush and the animals. Give my love to Cathy. Heilie Uys

    Neeley says:

    Do they have 2 brothers? I believe this is the pride we saw this time last year when visiting northern Sabi Sands. they were just on the reserve we were visiting for 2 days. time enough to kill a buff,have a good meal & move on. At that time we were told they were the Breakaway Pride but was not told which Pride they broke away from.

    Bader says:

    In addition to what James said…MalaMala will always name a pride or coalition according to an area on the reserve no matter how well established or famous the name is. Examples: Mapogos (Mlowathi), Tsalala (Marthly), Sparta (Eyrfield), Southern pride (Selati), Birmingham (Gawrie), Majingilane (Manyeleti), even the Matimbas were referred to as the Clarendon Males.

    Jill Larone says:

    It’s good to see them doing well and hopefully we’ll see cubs again soon. I hope the Tsalala young males stay safe. Your pictures are beautiful, James!

    Lea says:

    Thanks James, nice blog. As the plot thickens – lion dynamics. Nice family group and I wish them much success.

    Chris says:

    The southern matimbas are 25 kilometers from the northern matimba and his coalition mate the Rockfig male. They all are in the Manyeleti.

    Kate Imrie says:

    The legacy of one lioness – the tailless female! what a legend!

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