Londolozi has become a sort of ground zero for male lions at the moment. The departure of the Matimba males, the arrival of the two Avoca males, the surprise appearance of the Birmingham coalition and the pushing of the Matshipiri males into the more eastern sections of Londolozi are all just slow-burning fuses for what may turn out to be a major detonation. Despite the three Majingilane males having relinquished their territorial hold over Londolozi two years ago, even they seem unable to resist urges to re-enter the fray. It leaves us questioning though, “what is going through the minds of the Majingilane?”

Majingilane

The three Majingilane males as they head eastwards, responding to the calls of the Avoca males. Photograph by Peter Thorpe

One of the Avoca coalition as he roars around the Londolozi camps one morning. Notice how substantially less developed his mane is than the Majingilane males. Although these males have been able to pressurise the Matshipiri males, it seems they are less keen to take on the Majingilane. Photograph by Vedant Thite

Birmingham

The Birmingham male coalition made an appearance in the northern sections of Londolozi as well this week. Could they be looking to expand territory? Should they do so, it will only further confuse the already upset lion dynamics on Londolozi at the moment. Only time will tell if they continue to push south. Photograph by Nick Kleer

During the night of 13 June, the Majingilane’s bellowing roars were heard heading closer and closer to the Londolozi camps. As dawn broke, they were found on our airstrip and were followed south and east throughout the morning as they steadily marched in the last known direction of the Avoca males, calling all the way. They eventually lay down to rest in some shade at the edge of a clearing in the centre of Londolozi and only got going again later that evening. The intensity with which they responded to the Avoca males’ calls and the effort they made to head from their position substantially north and west of us, had us thinking that maybe they were really up for a fight this time. The next morning though, we found them close to the river again, silently on their way back west to the core of their territory.

Two of the Majingilane found moving with purpose on the morning of June 13. Photograph by Nick Kleer

Why did they bother coming all this way, if they didn’t plan to stay? If they were that fazed by the presence of the Avoca males, why did they not follow them further eastwards? Are they planning to re-gain territory that they ceded two years ago or are they just wanting to create a buffer between their territory and the tug of war currently going on between the various coalitions on Londolozi? Are these well thought out tactics or just a knee-jerk reaction to the calls of other males? To be honest, we really can’t know for sure.

majingilane, pete thorpe

These males would call, stop to listen for a response before continuing on again. They eventually lay down to rest in the centre of Londolozi, which is as far east as they ventured during this visit. Photograph by Peter Thorpe

Although this coalition of three is still a formidable force, it does seem like their days of actively fighting for or expanding their territory are over.

Even James Tyrrell, the world’s most avid Majingilane supporter, was reportedly heard saying, “it seems that they’re just not the coalition they once were”. Quite something coming from James who has spent the last six years convinced of their immortality.

At their current age, I think the only time we may now see these Majingilane really commit to a fight would be if another group of males decide to move into the western portions of the Sabi Sands. This would essentially squash the Majingilane into the edge of their territory at the edge of the park, forcing them to fight. Having associated with the Mhangeni pride and having sired cubs with these females, the Majingilane are under no pressure to push back east and it seems that their appearance on Londolozi may have just been a show of muscle as opposed to a real challenge. Whatever the case, it seems to have done the trick, as we haven’t seen or heard from the Avoca males since then.

Majingilane, Peter Thorpe

Despite their swift response, the Majingilane turned and headed back west the following morning, returning Londolozi to relative calm once again these last few days. Photograph by Peter Thorpe.

So often amongst rangers, we try to discuss what it is that is going through the head of a male lion. Why do they do the things that they do and is it as well thought out or tactically minded as we’d like to believe?

In this current situation, it seems that the Majingilane may have just been unable to help themselves…

Filed under Lions Wildlife

About the Author

Amy Attenborough

Media Team

Amy has a rich field-guiding history, having spent time at both Phinda and Ngala Game Reserves. This diversity of past guiding locations brought her an intimate understanding of different biomes across South Africa, and she immediately began making a name for herself as ...

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16 Comments

on Why Did The Majingilane Return?

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Judy hayden
Guest

Lions are magnificent creatures. I will see a lion in the wild one day.

Senior Moment
Guest

Wonderful photos, great story.

Lea
Guest

Interesting blog Amy. There are times I am sure you wish that animals could talk and explain exactly what is going on. Fascinating lion dynamics and hope you keep us posted on the outcome of the puzzle.

Mike Ryan
Guest

Thanks for the update really appreciate the unfolding drama. Have you seen the 5 massive Mantimanhle since May ?

Amy Attenborough

Morning Mike. No we haven’t seen or heard any more of the Mantimahle males. They’re moving further south and east of us near the lower portions of the Sabi Sands and into the Kruger. Thanks so much, Amy

Cam
Guest

Have you guys heard anything about the whereabouts of the matimba boys
Surely if the Birmingham boys challenge the majingis they will come out on top?

Amy Attenborough

Morning Cam. No, we haven’t heard any more on the Matimba males since they left Londolozi and headed north. The last we heard they were nearing Orpen area. It is always hard to say what will be the outcome of a fight between these coalitions as it depends so much on numbers, condition of the animals and so on. But certainly being five young strong males, the Birmingham males would give the three substantially older males a run for their money. Thanks so much, Amy

Scott Sebastian
Guest

Great story and pics Amy.One question though,the male lion that broke his leg .Did he finally die from that or is
still hanging on.I don’t remember which group he was from.Have not seen any more mention of him so was
wondering about his status.Thanks for all the great stories and pics from someone who enjoys them from Texas.

Mishal
Guest

I worry about Tsalala pride are all these males at a safe distance from them ?

Amy Attenborough

Hi Mishal. Yes both the Tsalala Pride and the Tsalala Breakaway Pride have been staying quite far north of these males and are all currently safe. Luckily there has been a lot of roaring coming from these various coalitions, which helps the prides of females to be aware of and therefore steer clear of the males’ positions. Many thanks, Amy

Jill Larone
Guest

Amy, great update on the Majingilane! They are looking a little beat up but still look fairly healthy and in good shape. Is there any word on how the Matshipiri males are doing, in particular the one with the broken leg?

K.burkett
Guest

Wonderful article and nice seeing the old boys still up for a challenge..beautiful legends of old…beautiful

odie
Guest

Amy the Birmingham males are four they lost their brother a year ago. Thanks for the update.

Mike Ryan
Guest

Some good news today for lion lovers… the injured Matshapiri male has covered a surprising amount of ground from we we last saw him. He was at Buffalo Bush Dam, well fed and still crunching down on the remains of an impala. We can’t say for certain weather he somehow managed to kill it himself or if he stole the kill but the Emsagweni female leopard Picked this up on Mala Mala 16 June

Kevin
Guest

Hi Amy, The Birmingham are no longer a coalition of 5 but 4, Scrapper died last year.

Susi Cowar
Guest

Thanks for the update and information, I love your stories and know what is happening with these magnificent cats.

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