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.

The Ntsevu pride are continually splitting up and reforming, and it is rare these days to find them as a complete pride of six lionesses.

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.

Lions, like leopards, also have individual spot patterns, although theirs are generally quite a bit harder to distinguish, and one has to look closely. The lioness at the back is identifiable in the Ntsevu pride by her paler fur and the ridge on her nose, while the one closest to camera has darker fur and eyes.

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.

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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10 Comments

on Ntsevu Pride Update

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Marinda Drake

Thanks for the update James. Stunning video. Is it because there were just two lionesses on the kill that the hyenas attacked?

James Tyrrell

Most likely Marinda. With a lot of hyenas there the clan clearly had the upper hand.
Had a big male lion been there I’m sure things would have been different.

Callum Evans

Very interesting read. It does seem that this pride won’t be able to survive unless they ally themselves with one of the coalitions. Is there a distinct possibility of the lionesses splitting up, based on what you described?
And that was an incredible video that Callum captured, thought that one lioness was going to get injured!

Denise Vouri

Wow! Great video although I was rooting for the lions.
I find it curious that these six females have not established a coalition with one of the dominant male prides. It seems the females have no interest in growing their numbers as you mentioned that there have only been two litters and all cubs were killed.
I’ve seen the Mhagene 16 strong pride in Singita, and now it seems there has been movement into Londolozi by one or more. They don’t care where the property borders are. Keep us posted on this pride.

Jeff Rodgers

Talk about up close and personal . . .

Michael & Terri Klauber

Good luck to Callum! What a way to finish! We saw an amazing hyena take-away from one of our favorite leopards on our last visit while riding with Nick Kleer. We don’t dare even show it to anyone! Those hyenas are out of control on a kill!

Mike Dominici

Wow ! Great video. They were definitely outnumbered. Where were the other lionesses? Very sad that none of the cubs have survived. It is also shocking that none of the male coalitions have claimed this pride of females. They could be a powerful pride with some strong males to join them.

James Tyrrell

Hi Mike,
It was just the two lionesses on this morning.
Regards

Tracie Ricketts

Hi James, I’m new here, but I’ve been reading your blogs for a while now. I was hooked by the very first article I read of yours. Your blogs transport me there in some way. Through your writing I envision all that you write about, I can see it!. It must be truely amazing there. I love it and I can’t wait to go. (someday) : ))
I have a question about these girls, are they still going back and forth, spending time with their parental pride (Mhangeni) then back to the Ntsevu pride? Will the remaining members of the Mhangeni allow for them to go back and forth like that? If the break away does stick and become permanent, will the girls still keep a bond with their Mhangeni parental pride?
Also, i enjoyed hearing about some of the lions (male or female) liking and forming extra special bonds with certain members within their pride. I had always wondered if they did have favorites , or bffs. Lol.. or, imagine if one or some lionesses didn’t like the new pride male.. eeekk!! Then what? I’m guessing they suck it up and keep distance :))

James Tyrrell

Hi Tracie,

Thanks for the comments.
The Ntsevu lionesses haven’t had contact with the Mhangeni pride for quite awhile now; none this year that I’m aware of. I think that now the Mhangeni pride has new cubs they will be far less accepting of their daughters returning. Apparently it is well documented that after a couple of generations, once the genetic relatedness has drifted off to a certain point, prides that have split will have completely severed contact, and there will be no more overlap.
As far as favourites and bonds within the pride go, I’m sure it has a lot to with original relationships, and litter mates are more likely to stick together, although that is mere speculation on my part. \Regards
James

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