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?”
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.
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.
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.
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…