I don’t know how many of you have watched HBO’s miniseries Band of Brothers, but there’s a line in one of the final episodes (near the end of the War) in which Sergeant Malarkey is talking to a new officer in the regiment about the fact that his unit has a roof over their heads, and says that at this stage of the war,”I don’t think anyone wants to do anything stupid, you know?”.

With everyone knowing that the end of hostilities is surely approaching, there’s really no need to go on the offensive. Survival is all that counts.

The Majingilane with the missing canine lies with a few of the sub-adults from the Mhangeni pride. Photograph by James Tyrrell

The Majingilane coalition appear to find themselves in a similar situation. Having been in residence in the Sabi Sand Reserve for more than 7 years now (first arriving in mid-2010), they surely can’t be more than a year from being overthrown. Mind you, I’ve said something similar many times before, yet they continue to persist.

And good for them.

You’ll read in many textbooks that male lions have an average tenure of two years over a territory, so an extra five for the Majingilane is an incredibly impressive feat. Bear in mind though that average tenure and what is normal can be two different things. You might get 10 coalitions holding territories for one year and ten holding territory for three years; the average occupancy would be two years, but not one of the coalitions actually held territory for that length of time.

The Dark Mane and Scar Nosed males – almost a coalition within a coalition – emerge from the darkness. Photograph by Paul Danckwerts

Mathematics aside, to exist in an area with a healthy lion population and continue to ward off rivals for that long is something to be respected. Granted there were four Majingilane for a long time, and in what is essentially a numbers game, they have had the upper hand in almost every encounter, yet the number of male coalitions that have come and gone during their tenure is not insignificant.

Off the top of my head, the following males have been unable to unseat the Majingilane since their arrival:

There may be one or two more coalitions that I’ve forgotten, but those are the main ones. The dynamics rarely involved a simple head-to-head between the Majingilane and any of the above males but despite much prophesying over the years about their impending demise (mostly by me!), the Majingilane have outlasted or continue to outlast them all.

A male from what would become the Sand River coalition to the south of Londolozi desperately tries to ward off an attack by two of the Majingilane (a third is out of picture). during the early part of their dominance. Photograph by James Tyrrell

The Birmingham males are steadily encroaching into the grey area into which the Majingilane occasionally venture, and being a group of four magnificent lions in their prime, there is a serious chance that they may be the next big thing on Londolozi.

One of the Birmingham males passes behind ranger John Mohaud’s Land Rover. From his full mane, one can see how this male is in his absolute prime. Photograph by James Tyrrell

The bulk of the Majingilane’s movement these days involves trailing the Mhangeni pride at a distance, joining in the occasional hunt and feeding off any kills the pride makes.
Their silence has been notable though, and two nights ago, when we sat with them after dark, just south of the Londolozi camps, they simply got up and faded west into the night. No roaring, no scent-marking, nothing. Far from their normal area of occupation to the west of Londolozi, I imagine they thought it prudent to not draw too much attention to themselves.

As they age, we are almost always seeing them as a full complement of three if they do choose to venture this far east; as individuals they are far more likely to be picked off piecemeal by any stronger coalitions they may encounter. I may be giving the impression here that they are a short step from the end, but as the visuals in the video below show, they are still awesome specimens of lionhood:

Come what may, the time of the Majingilane at Londolozi and the Sabi Sand Reserve as a whole was not simply a few years in the careers of a few rangers and trackers. It has been an era. A common ground of magnificence between many guides and guests alike in this small corner of Africa.

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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32 Comments

on Majingilane Come Back

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Marinda Drake

Love the video. The Magingilane are my most favourite lion coalition. It is wonderful that they are back at Londolozi.

James Tyrrell

Hi Marinda,
We were also thrilled to see them!

Denise Vouri

Fascinating James. I’m curious as to how you name the rivals that could unseat the brothers – Styx, Avoca?? Does it have to do with places they were first spotted? Seven years of ruling one territory is extraordinary and I hope to see them in their environment before they are pushed out by another band of brothers. Such an interesting blog- thanks James.

Jessica Massett

Are there only 3 still alive , do they still have any territories and prides

James Tyrrell

Hi Jessica,
Yes only 3 are still alive: http://blog.londolozi.com/2017/02/27/farewell-to-the-hip-scar-male/
Their territory is predominantly to the west of Londolozi, and they are currently dominant over the Ottawa and Mhangeni prides.
Best regards

Dries Marais

While I have been reading and enjoying most of the blog posts one recurring thought keeps bugging me:

Are the lion and leopard ever allowed to just carry on with their lives without a Landrover being constantly right in their face? The trackers shouting “LOOK!” and the guide shouting and the radio shouting and another Landrover charging to cut the pride off before they cross the Sand river, or where the cubs have been hidden?

Is it a thrill to be a close up voyeur when the leopards mate? One gets the feeling that nature has to meet the thrill demands for instant gratification by foreign tourists?

Is it a tourist demand or has it been a Londolozi style that educated tourists that this is the style in Africa?

I do hunting and photo safaris and God forbid that my clients have anything closer than a 400 mm telephoto lens photo or a 12×42 binocular view of untamed nature.

There has a lot of knowledge and good information come out of Londolozi over the years. One wonders if there are any wildebeest and kudu and impala around because the focus is so intense on eye level contact with leopard and lion and rarely a wider report on the general habitat.

James Tyrrell

Hi Dries,

Thanks for your comments; you raise some very valid points, many of which we discuss regularly at the lodge amongst our team to make sure we continue to operate in an ethically sound manner in which the animals are always put first.

Lets go through the points one at a time:

1. The vast majority of the leopards’ and lions’ lives ARE lived without a Land Rover present. If one breaks it down, there are 168 hours in a week. Of that, only roughly 6-7 hours per day have game drives out in the field at Londolozi, which gives us 49 (give or take a few). Of THOSE hours, given that A. we are operating on a large piece of land, and B. we have very healthy populations of both lions and leopards, only very few actually involve a Land Rover being with a specific animal. The Mashaba female for instance, one of Londolozi’s most viewed, will often not be seen for a week, and when she IS found, the viewing is conducted in a sensitive manner, with maybe a maximum of 10 hours (at a push) of the 168 in a week being spent with her.
In sightings, Trackers do NOT shout “LOOK!”, despite their excitement, neither does the guide ever shout, nor does the radio. We try and conduct ourselves around the animals with very sensitive procedures, which includes keeping our voices down out of reverence for the wildlife. Unfortunately the noise of a diesel engine when the Land Rovers are moving is unavoidable, but whenever the animal is seen to be listening or vocalising we cut the engines, and try keep them switched off for as long as we can in order to minimise impact. We are still in the planning stage of moving to an electrical fleet, in which noise pollution will be reduced to almost zero.
No guide would EVER cut off an animal to prevent its movement!

2. It certainly is a thrilling experience to be close-up to leopards, whatever they are doing, even if it is nothing. Nature is never expected to ‘perform’ for us; just to be in the presence of a wild animal should be enough, and is part of the guiding ethos that is instilled into all trainees that embark upon a career at Londolozi. The reality is that people are coming from all over the world to be able to view these animals, and it is their visits that fund the upkeep of the Lodge, and enable us to continue running minimal-impact safaris, with the animals existing in as close to a natural state as possible. The alternative would be to pack everything up and leave, but it wouldn’t be long before the land was reclaimed for farming or other unsustainable practices. In the crowded world we live in, the reality is that wildlife needs to pay for itself to remain.

3. This is not the style all over Africa. This procedures described above are largely standard within the private game reserves in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and others. Over many years of conducting safaris, they are found to be the least impactful way to view animals and expose foreign visitors to the incredible natural heritage of our beautiful continent.

4. Thankfully after almost 50 years of NO hunting on Londolozi, the animals have learned that the Land Rovers that traverse the land are not to be feared. I imagine the association the animals have with people in hunting areas is negative, and you may well need a 400mm lens or something larger to get an adequate photo before the animal runs.

5. The high-profile animals are mainly what people come from all over the world to see. We try and give our guests as holistic and naturalistic experience as possible when they visit, and talk about the birds, trees, termites and everything in between and how they are all connected. Ultimately though it is more than likely the Big 5 that will steal the show.

Please feel free to enter into a private correspondence with me should you have any more questions or comments, I am on email at blog.londolozi.co.za.

Best regards,

James Tyrrell
Londolozi Guide and Media Team

Kristine Dong

Dearest Dries,

I can attest to everything James has stated above. I’ve been on game drive collectively with Londolozi for over 200 hours and have never EVER seen anyone shout or had the radio blasting. These rangers conduct themselves and their vehicles with respect to the animals first. They are the gold standard of conservation and respect to the land and the animals.

I also have never been in a vehicle where an animal has been “cut off” or where a cub has been disturbed in its hiding place. I think that is a common misconception so I’m glad you asked.

Lastly, if you’re interested Dries, I have tons of photos and videos of non-Big 5 things that might interest you. Not all tourists are interested in that. Some take interest in the lives of the people and their culture for example. And my favorite video of my most recent trip, in fact, is in the pitch black dark where you can only hear the sound of crickets and the water rushing from the Sand River… wait… you can also hear me sobbing because it was so beautiful.

I think life and visits to any country are only as limiting as your imagination and, well, yourself lets it be. I think it’s beautiful to let yourself go and fully immerse your entire being into the land, its animals and most importantly its people. So to hopefully answer some of your concerns, there’s more to love at Londolozi than leopards and lions if you just let yourself go.

6x guest,
Kristine

Ian Hall

I can concur, the guiding standards in Londolozi (and generally in Sabi Sands) are exceptionally respectful of the animals concerned. I have been able to use Carl Zeiss 135 at close range. This isn’t East Africa or a National Park in South Africa where it can be overcrowded and unprofessional

Joanne Wadsworth

Once again I’m reminded of the true marvel of living within Londolozi and seeing the magnificence of these lions on an ongoing basis. James, you are truly fortunate. I for one cheer this group on, even against the odds, knowing the invisible ceptor of rule must eventually change. They are a magnificent group and loved the portion of video showing the affectionate, bonding rub as they walked along together. I do have a simple question though…..when the fight for dominance occurs, is it always to the death? Or can the defeated, and I assume injured, trail off into the bush to heal?

James Tyrrell

Hi Joanne,
It’s not always to the death, although it regularly is. Often a coalition or male will know exactly when his foe is/are vanquished, and if they can do him no further harm, he will sometimes be left alone.
Male lions also generally have the sense to run if they realise they don’t have the upper hand.
Best,
James

Callum Evans

The Majingilane males really are incredible, the fact that they’ve outlasted the competition almost 4 times longer than the average coalitions tenure period in such a high lion density area is an incredible feat!! They have become such an enigma of Londolozi and I was always get that litt;e shiver of excitement/anticipation when I see the name.

For now, I think the Birmingham may hang back but at some point they could well challenge the Majingilane. If anyone manages to witness it, that could be legendary!

Jill Larone

Great update, James, and I loved the video! This legendary coalition have a special place in my heart and I will never forget the morning in 2013 that I was so fortunate to see them on patrol at Londolozi. I don’t mind admitting that I shed a tear when Hip Scar died last year. I am hoping the three remaining brothers are allowed to live out their lives in relative peace, although I realize that in the wild that is not likely. Whatever lies ahead for them, I am certain that we will all speak of the mighty Majingilane with fondness, admiration and respect for many years to come.

James Tyrrell

Hi Jill,
Thanks for the comments. If anything they are even more impressive these days than they have ever been (although it would be great if all four were still around). Hopefully you can get back soon to see them!
Best regards

Marty Meyerdierks

I really enjoy reading Londonlozi’s write up. Story telling is sencond to none. I will say this about Majingilane coalition. Mapogo coalition initialy drew me in to following lions in Kruger/Sabi Sands but Majingilane coalition kept me interested in following the stories of male lions here.

James Tyrrell

Hi Marty,
Thanks very much for the comments.
Both sagas are equalling as enthralling in my opinion. The Mapogos maybe a bit more dramatic, but the Majingilane I think far more established in terms of offspring and furthering their genetic line.
Best regards

Patrik Hutter

Hi James and greetings to Londolozi!
I was first at Londolozi in January 2013. I was so lucky to see them, with ranger Rich Ferrier, and as you I also wondered whether they will still be four strong at the end of the year. Like you I thought of mathematics, already early 2013! Looking back, in my opinion there are 3 major things: first the take over on the Mapogos, then the conquest of the western sector and third the warding off of the Matimbas. I think when young lions come to conquer new territories, it’s one thing. But I think the taking on the Selatis was a proper 2nd take over. Not Many coalitions have done that. And keeping off the Matimbas, Majingilanes already being old lions, was not easy, yet they did it. Now being really old lions, we are kept wondering for how long they can keep on? They are legends whatever may be!

James Tyrrell

Hi Patrick,
I’m in full agreement with all you say. Definitely a second takeover when they took on the Selati males, and yes, Legends!

Best regards

The Equalizer

This is partly right.

Frist, there was no “Mapogo” takeover, it was from the mlowathis. Meaning a 2 vs 5 and they still lost a brother.

Second, they always outnumbered the 2 matimabs so it was never that hard. 4 vs 2 or even 3 vs 2 was always in their favour adn still, they lost Londolozi to the matimbas.

Mj Bradley

Thank you for the wonderful blog. What a wonderful time we have had sharing in the lives of the Majingialne males. I know their time is coming to an end but hope we can keep them for a little while yet. They are a coalition who used brains and brawn to rule their territory.. Thank you for this blog.

Lachlan Fetterplace

Great post! One day it would be a great, though no doubt time consuming endeavour, to post an extended length blog on them with timeline, maps and events…I think it would get a lot of reads!

James Tyrrell

Hi Lachlan.

Absolutely! There’s a whole archive of posts going back in time on this blog, but it would indeed be great to have it all compiled into one place! Maybe we’ll get around to it one of these days…
Best regards

Judy Hayden

Awesome summary of the activities our the beloved lions. I have to say James, since you have talked about some prides not surviving for some time now, and they have proved you wrong. Don’t change your mindset- you my friend are their good luck charm. Keep up the awesome blogs and beautiful pictures.

James Tyrrell

Hi Judy,

Thanks for the comments. Haha I’ll keep predicting the end and hope they keep proving me wrong! 😉

Kristine Dong

Phenomenal read! Dark maned male was the very first male lion I have ever laid eyes on and I have been loving him since 2013. I even won CNN photo of the day with one of my photos. Love him and his brothers. Thanks for this update! Hope to see him again in August.

James Tyrrell

Thanks Kristine!
We hope you see him too!

Thiago Medeiros

Hello James! Thank you for the update. I have a question, when was the last time the Majingis fought to defend their territory?

James Tyrrell

Hi Thiago,

Good question. When it comes to actual fighting, I think probably over a year ago when they were up against the Matimbas.

Thiago Medeiros

Thanks James. I plan to go to Londolozi next year, I hope to see the Majingis still rulling, but them and the Matimbas, I think they are in the final years of reigning.

Kiki Courtelis

James, so well presented (as always) about a legend coalition. Glad they are back on their homeland and I hope to hear more about them in the days ahead.

Vinayak Upadhyaya

Age factor is important for male lions in a pride . Younger lions will try to take over pride from older lions .

James Tyrrell

Correct

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