Once more the roars of three lions, not two, were heard in the chill dawn air. It could only be the Majingilane.

Waking at intervals through the night, like a diver occasionally coming up for air, it was a relatively simple thing for many of the rangers and trackers to chart the progress of the Majingilane as the lions marched in from the north-west, bellowing as they came. Assembling on deck before sunrise, the conversation amongst guides and guests was naturally going to lean towards the current lion dynamics and the ever-more-frequent forays of the three Majingilane back into the Londolozi heartland. Hearing their roaring swell in volume and then recede as dawn approached, it was a relatively straightforward thing for the field team to isolate the area in which they were, and it wasn’t long before Callum Gowar and Shadrack Mkhabela found them moving steadily through the thickets to the south of the Maxabene riverbed.

This time, however, something was different. The battle-hardened faces bore fresh cuts. Blood dripped off the chin of the Dark-Maned male, and the male with the scar nose showed similar signs of a battering. Gone was the aura of invincibility that these lions have long worn like a cloak.

It is believed that the dark-maned male’s right eye was already blind, so further injury to it through a fight would not be the worst thing that could happen. Photograph by Callum Gowar

The scar-nosed male showing cuts in an eerily similar place to the dark maned male.

The honest truth is that these males aren’t looking like the invincible group they once were.

Obviously being one-down from their previous make-up has made them more vulnerable, but their reactions to what is happening around them are slowly starting to lose that competitive edge. Yesterday morning the two Avoca males were found, again in company with two Ntsevu lionesses, and the Majingilane’s line of march came directly from where the younger males had been. We had assumed that a large part of the reason the Majingilane have been coming back has been to establish a buffer between their territory and the encroachment of the Avoca pair, yet yesterday morning, when a loud series of growls from an interaction between the Avoca males and one of the lionesses was heard, the Majingilane simply continued on their way without reacting. And the growling wasn’t that far off.
I remember back in 2011 when they were newly dominant, and tracker Like Gumede trailed them down to the southern parts of Londolozi in 45 minutes of brilliant track following and anticipation; all four Majingilane were together, when suddenly in the distance we heard the roar of another male lion. Four heads shot up, and within seconds the coalition was in full charge in the direction of the roar, which from the sounds of it was at least a couple of kilometres away. We soon lost them in the Dichrostachys thickets as they continued at full speed, but my point is how they reacted to the slightest hint of the presence of another male; with instant aggression. Yesterday morning they didn’t.

If they are coming back now to ward off the encroachment of the Avoca males, why were they simply retreating yesterday morning, when the Avoca males were still nearby, and audible.

In terms of the Ntsveu lionesses, mating with them would not be the genetic first prize for the Majingilane, as the six females are their daughters. Inbreeding in lions is not uncommon, but obviously not ideal for the continued genetic health of a population. After many months without contact, just how much recognition there might be between the Majingilane and the Ntsevu lionesses is difficult to say, but an encounter would very likely be approached with hesitancy by both sides.

This takes us back to the buffer theory, and the Majingilane simply trying to establish a sort of no-mans land between their core territory and any other threat.

The scar-nosed male follows behind. Although I don’t have a photo of him here, the missing-canine male was also sporting cuts on his face.

I guess the only real question now is who were they really fighting with to sustain such gashes? The Avoca males seemed relatively unscathed yesterday morning. Reports of the sound of lions fighting east of Mala Mala Main Camp reached us, and we know the Matshipiri males had been somewhere in the area. The Birmingham males have also been seen a couple of times pushing south onto Londolozi soil, so cannot be ruled out, especially given the distances that male lions can walk through the night.

Many facial cuts sustained by male lions – and indeed lions in general – are received when fighting amongst each other over carcasses, but the presence of this coalition far out of their usual territory, roaring through the night, tied in with the sounds of lions scrapping, all seem to point towards a confrontation of some kind with rivals.

With the Matshipiri coalition seemingly broken, and no-one yet having witnessed an actual Majingilane-Avoca clash, this all just conjecture until something more concrete is seen.

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 ...

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on How Long Can the Majingilane Last?

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Nice blog! Things are hotting up and leading to interesting times….again it is mere speculation as none have witnessed the actual fight…as usual many of us do look forward to know the impending drama between the Majingilanes and their adversaries….many thanks

Scotty North

Both Matimba Males were seen in northern sabisands today.

Kashif Gul

This looks more and more like the 3 remaining Mapogos in 2012. Lets hope These old warriors can hang around longer.

Andre gomes

Any coalition to stand again Majingilanes would be either Matimbas or Mantimahles.

Tommy lee

Hi guys wow! I cant believe there is no clips of this clash! Or images of the fight who had hold of who how they came in and who took the 1st hit!? I would love to see images of the avaco male now please! 🙂 and some more of partially broken dark mane! Love hearing about the avaco war you young warriors!


If the birminghams move to the wests do you think the majingilane boys will survive?

Susi Cowar

Thanks for the update James, it’s very interesting. As I can not be there I love to read your stories and to know of my dear big cats. I hope these guys still have some time left.

Senior Moment

Great writing, look forward to reading more.


Hi James how is Sparta pride doing these days ?Are they coming into Londo or not

Holly Meyers

Hello….so I have been a way for a while….is the 3rd brother lost for all time now? I knew he was really down but a pan, the last I heard….thank you for any information, Holly

Amy Attenborough

Hi Holly. There are three remaining Majingilane. The one that you meay be referring to was known as the Hip Scar male and he passed away a while ago. Thanks so much, Amy

Randy chen

I will be following the Majiginlanes closely as their rule is coming to a close. Thank you for your blogs, so folks like us who does not have the means to watch them live in person but nevertheless loves them can have a wealth of info.


It makes me sad these animals must go through this in their lives, but that is the way God intended.


Thank you for the blog, James! Interesting assessment but something doesn’t quite add up. Lion dynamics come down to a numbers game more times than not. Being 3 healthy but aging males I still don’t see the 2 Avoca’s or healthy Matshipiri taking on the Majingilane’s. The wounds on SN & GM are very superficial and indicate more of an internal scrap whereas DM though more pronounced wounds, are still just that, superficial. There are no bite marks on the legs or back areas to any of them. You mentioned you’ve located the Avoca’s and they aren’t sporting any wounds from a fight, have you been able to locate the Matshipiri? Also, when’s the last time the B-Boys were spotted in your traverse? I also believe whatever scrap occurred was very quick. Based off of pictures and videos on social media, I don’t think the Majingilane are finished by any means. They are still in great condition and now have some more scars to wear. I look forward to hearing your opinion in the coming days. Thanks!


These guys are really looking beaten up – sad really. A tough life in the bush for lions. Will be interesting to see how this all plays out. Thanks for the interesting blog James.

Mike ryan

The Avoca males do not seem to have been in a fight but the dark maned matshipiri is missing. I miss Africa but enjoy tracking lions on the net reading all the other concessions blogs and trying to piece out what happened. Can’t wait for more updates

Joanne Lofthouse

It saddens me that their reign may be coming to an end, I just hope that they can survive and don’t fight till the death. They sure do look pretty beat up and they are getting old. Take care Majingilane.


Two majingilanes males injured real badly the healthier matshiphri male.

Holly Meyers

Thank you ….appreciate the update..and yes, was he that I was thinking of….

Tommy lee

Hi i have heard that they once again had an encointer with the fuller mane matshipiri ! I hope he is ok being outnumbered! He sure let them know he wont go without a fight! I hope that he is licking wounds abd is ok??!! I believe that he has led the majingilane away from his very unwell brother with the broken leg. Any update on the matshipiri would be great!

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