The carcass of the old Tailed lioness was discovered yesterday afternoon by Londolozi rangers out on a bush walk, just below Ximpalapala crest.

The size of the skull and her weathered teeth were conclusive in the identification of the carcass. It could be no other lion.

To the west of her final resting place lies Ximpalapala Koppie, a rocky outcrop from which this lioness must have gazed out hundreds of times and a place where she has stashed multiple litters of cubs over her 15 years of life.

The lioness and some of her sub-adult offspring rest in front of Ximpalapala Koppie during the drought,

Just over the hill to the north-east you get to the Manyelethi River, a winding, sandy riverbed that has been dry for the last few years, but along whose course this lioness has also denned cubs, and wandered time without count under the giant Jackalberry trees whose spreading boughs and thick trunks line its banks.

Tailed Tsalala Lioness Jt 3

The Tsalala pride seek shade against the banks of the Manyelethi River. The lioness raised cubs of her own and helped raise others of her pride as well. This tiny cub was in fact born to her mother, the old Tailless female, but never made it to adulthood.

And only a kilometre to the south flows the Sand River, the most prominent feature throughout the whole of this old lioness’ life. She waded across its channels, basked in the sun on its boulders on cold winter mornings, and slept in the shade amid its innumerable date palm thickets. For most of her life she would have done this in company with her sister, the Tailless female, but now, finally, we can confirm that this iconic duo is officially no more.

Tailed Tsalala Lioness Jt

The Tailed female leads her sister (middle) and mother (rear) across the verdant clearings opposite camp.

Just after we ran a post announcing that she was nearing the end, she received an unexpected windfall in the form of an elephant carcass to the south of Ximpalapala koppie. A young elephant had died of natural causes, and that carrion was able to sustain the lioness for just a little while longer. She was seen feeding off it on a number of occasions, too weak to show any aggression towards the hyenas that swarmed over the scene. They in turn, left her alone, although it wouldn’t have taken much for them to move in and finish her off. The heartache was that her sister and the rest of her pride were at the carcass at the same time. There had to be recognition between the two old females, but as the old Tailed lioness was clearly no longer a valuable member of the group, and could no longer keep up, the pride eventually moved off, simply leaving her to try and eke out a bit more of an existence.

Map Lioness

Site of the discovery of the lioness’ remains

We do not know what the exact fate of the lioness was or what the final date of her death was. Maybe hyenas did finish her off, or maybe she simply put her head down and slipped away into unconsciousness for the last time.

Whichever the case, there is some consolation in having found her last resting place, in the middle of the area she once roamed as an iconic lioness of Londolozi.

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 Tsalala Lioness Found Dead

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Joanne Wadsworth

The picture of her literally skin and bones was heartbreaking. I’m glad she isn’t suffering now and that you and staff have closure.

Marinda Drake

James it is so sad that she is gone. In the end it is for the best. Such a beautiful area where she came to rest.

Phil Schultz

She sounds a lot like the mother lion we watched a couple times in May 2016 with 2 cubs on a kudu kill near Ximpalapala Koppe. I know the lioness we saw was a member of the Tsalala pride and the father was one of the Matimba males. Link is to a photo from my Facebook album of the trip showing the Matimba males chasing her away from the kill:

Darlene Knott

The Tsalala lioness was a beautiful animal. I am so sorry she died, but she certainly had a long and productive life. And, it is comforting to know she died in ‘her neighborhood’ so to speak. Where there is life, there is death. Rest In Peace. Thanks, James, for sharing the news.

Gabriele La

How many subadults of the pride are stile alive?

James Tyrrell

Hi Gabriele,
Only one but she has been moving around alone, not with the pride…

David Finkle.

This is truly sad, the tailless lioness was my favorite lion and I followed her closely on all the blogs. Her courage, stamina and ability to hunt was truly remarkable. However, I am a little confused, twice in the blog there is reference to tailed and tailless lioness; “… recognition between the two old females, but as the old Tailed lioness was clearly no longer a valuable member of the group …” and “…For most of her life she would have done this in company with her sister, the Tailless female, but now, finally, we can confirm that this iconic duo is officially no more.” So, which lioness has passed, the Tailed or the Tailless?

James Tyrrell

Hi David,

The Tailed female was the one who died. Apologies for any confusion…

Judy Hayden

This brings tears to my eyes. A Queen in my memory. I hope she went in her sleep, peaceful and not afraid of any pending danger.
Following your blogs and seeing all the wonderful pictures- gives us a sense of being a part of the world over there. We get to know these wonderful animals and we fear for their perils and are happy for the wonderful moments. She definitely has a place in my heart and sadly I bid her farewell. RIP Old Tailed Queen of the pride.

Mj Bradley

Thank you for the final chapter in the life of a well lived lioness. I don’t suppose her sister the Tailless Lioness will be to far behind. Their mother passed on some wonderful genes to her daughters and we can only hope these two icons have passed them along to their progeny. Farewell Tailed Lioness and Thank You!

James Tyrrell

Hi MJ,
The Tailless female still looks to be in good health, but as we have just seem, the decline can be very rapid once it starts.

Alessandra Cuccato

Was she the mother of the rejected Tsalala youngsters that I saw? May she rest in peace.

James Tyrrell

Hi Alessandra,
Yes she was.


I was just wondering about her the past couple of days. Even though this outcome was expected since your previous post, it still made me cry. What a life though, 15 reigning, productive years..a true icon of an amazing pride. It does help to have a definite conclusion to her story, though. I do hope she “laid her head down, and slipped away…”

James Tyrrell

Hi vicky,
Agreed, it certainly helps at least knowing her final resting place, rather than always wondering…

Bror West

Hello James, thanks for the update, we was so sad to hear it, but it was coming, she and her mother, the old tailess, has been our favorites the last 10 years we have been visiting Sabi Sand, mostley at EP, we are keeping fingers crossed that the last girl of Tsalalas survives and have a happy life. Greetings from a cold Finland, Bror and TuijaWest

James Tyrrell

Hi Bror, thanks for your comments.

The Tailless female is still roaming the reserve somewhere, and there is still hope in the form of the 4-year old lioness. Let’s hope you can still see some Tsalala lions on your next visit!

Abbaas Ibn-Zubair

Sad to hear of another loss to the Tsalala pride. They are now only two adult members; Tailless female and young four year old daughter of the Majingilane is that right?
Did the Londolozi rangers bury her body or capture any photographs of it?

James Tyrrell

Hi Abbaas,
There was very little left to bury or capture photos of unfortunately.
The current make up of the pride is tailless lioness, 4-year old Majingilane daughter and one cub of the Tailless female. There is also a sub-adult female wandering the reserve from the two 2016 litters. Interesting times ahead…

Denise Vouri

And so the circle of life has come to an end for the Tailed Tsala lioness. Whilst it’s with a heavy heart that I tap out this response to your post, I truly understand how nature works and am relieved that there will be no future photos of her emaciated body. I hold on to the belief that she meandered off into her favorite shady spot, tucked into the vegetation, and peacefully went to sleep. May her spirit live on in the hearts of all who witnessed her beauty, her motherhood and subtle power.

James Tyrrell

Hi Denise,
Thanks for your kind words.
I’m holding on to the same belief that she just went peacefully to sleep as well…

Michael & Terri Klauber

James, How sad… We have hundreds of images of her from our visits over the years and will do our best to remember all the amazing sightings we had of her. She lead a full and fruitful (think of all her cubs!) life and gave so much joy to all who have had the pleasure of knowing her!

James Tyrrell

Just off the top of my head I can think of at least five sightings of her we’ve had together! She will be missed!

Jill Larone

So heartbreaking to hear this beautiful lady is gone, but good that she isn’t suffering any longer and that her final resting place was on Londolozi in one of her favourite places that she loved to roam. Her legacy will live on.

James Tyrrell

Hi Jill.
Indeed, and with the 4 year old lioness having been mating with the Birmingham males, maybe we’ll be seeing another Tsalala litter soon…?

Gerrhard F Burdzik

May the Tsalala Lioness rest in peace.

Warm regards to the Trackers, the Guides and everyone else,

Gerry Burdzik.

James Tyrrell

Hi Gerry,
Thanks for your wishes. Our warm regards back to you!

Susan Strauss

Glad she is at rest, and still sad at her passing. Until we meet again, beauty.

Samantha Hamilton

I was heartbroken to read this news! I am glad she is no longer suffering, but I was SO touched by this beautiful and formidable lion. I will miss seeing her. To me she was so much of Londolozi. 🙁

James Tyrrell

Hi Sam,
Thanks for your comments. You must have seen her on almost every visit! We were trying to calculate how many photos have been taken of her over the years and we put it well into the hundreds of thousands, perhaps more!

Cynthia House

Thank you for your beautiful words about this wonderful old lioness, I can imagine the space she leaves behind for all who knew her. Seeing the image of her close to the end brought tears to my eyes I have to say although I know it is the cycle of nature and respect that it was still heart wrenching. I admit to waiting to hear more about her knowing also that it would be to say she had gone.

James Tyrrell

HI Cynthia,
Indeed, the same thing has been happening for thousands of years, and it is the cycle of nature, as with anywhere else. It’s still very sad, nevertheless.

Wendy Hawkins

Oh what a tragic picture this is on the top of your blog 🙁 RIP beautiful Lioness you were amazing & will be remembered by many! Thanks James for the update

Iren Juppa

They are together with her mother, Original Tailless lioness R.I.P. ♥
Are there any information about a Tsalala cub?

James Tyrrell

Hi Iren,
Last we saw it was with the Tailless female, but they haven’t been seen for a couple of days.

Iren Juppa

Thank you for the info , James. ♥

Bror West

Hello again James, when i read replys of your guests specially David Finkles comments, i did get really confused because i thought that IT WAS the tailessed female who died, and now i found out that it was the sister, of course it is very sad that too, but our memorys of the old tailess and ( what we called her) the young tailess, is so great, and the photos we have, nice. But can you confirm the reason of the lost of the tails. Wehave been told that it was hyenas who have bite them of. ??

James Tyrrell

Hi Bror,
Yes it was hyenas that bit off both lionesses’ tails, in separate incidents about 5 years apart.
Apologies for any confusion, it was the TAILED lioness that passed away. The Tailless female is still alive and healthy, although we have not seen her for a couple of days.
Best regards

Callum Evans

I was very sad when I saw this. It really is the end of an era.

Liz McNamara

We met the two lioness and their cubs twice during our week with you Feb 2014. By 7am Feb 8 we followed the family to the Sand River where the two lionesses surveyed the crossing before letting the cubs start their crossing. After 15 minutes they all crossed the river but not until one of the cubs sneaked up and pushed their sibling in to the water. The video and pictures are a wonderful reminder of the beauty to be seen at the Londolozi Reserve.

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