The Ntsevu pride are hard to pin down.
I don’t mean physically of course, but more in terms of how they operate, their internal pride dynamics, and the predictability of their movements.
These six young lionesses are the newest pride of the Sabi Sand, with all of them only having turned four years old this year, and their pride only having been officially established from 2016 into -17 after they broke away from their parent Mhangeni pride.
With numbers on their side they seem to have successfully ousted the reduced Sparta pride from the eastern and south-eastern sections of Londolozi, and are now firmly established along the Sand River, from where it bends south down towards the Kruger National Park to Londolozi’s southern boundary, and east from there.
A couple of the lionesses have had cubs over the last nine months, but with the male population being in a constant state of flux, it is no wonder that none of these cubs have survived.
The lionesses have mated with at least three coalitions that we are aware of (Mathsipiri, Matimba and Majingilane), but until the male dynamics have stabilized, it seems very unlikely that any cubs will survive. Even the pride itself the dynamic is constantly changing. One female will break away for a spell, then rejoin. They will split into a two and a four, then three and three, and we never really know which lionesses will be together on any given day. Lion prides that enjoy some sort of longevity will invariably have one or two senior females that lead the hunts and add invaluable experience, but since the Ntsevu pride essentially started from scratch, with all the females the same age, there is no strict hierarchy and no serious allegiances that we can make out so far. In time, we may well see that a couple of the lionesses prefer hanging out with certain other individuals, and since some of them would have come from the same litters, this is a distinct possibility.
In the Majingilane coalition, it was generally the scar-nosed and dark-maned males that kept company, so why should the same thing not happen in a group of females?
Two of the lionesses who were on Londolozi only 24 hours ago took down a warthog in front of ranger Callum Gowar, but were soon chased off by a clan of hyenas that had heard the commotion and moved in to investigate.
Take a look at this incredible video that Callum captured on his last game drive as a Londolozi guide:
Despite taking over a prime territory, and being young, strong and healthy, it seems that without the firm establishment of a large male lion coalition – or at least one that can remain in control for over two years – the Ntsevu pride will remain just as it is, without cubs and with scant chance of growth, for some time to come.