It’s been many, many months since the regular calls of the Majingilane came reverberating down into camp from up at the airstrip.

Being serenaded by lions during dinner was a common occurrence, but with the changing of the guard leading into unstable times as far as the male lion dynamics were concerned, no coalition stuck around long enough to be a constant presence on central Londolozi.

The Matimba males would vocalise now and then, but without the numbers of the Majingilane, and the fact that they were mostly patrolling together, their inter-coalition communication was nothing close to that of their dominant predecessors.

The Matimba males weren’t around long enough to leave any kind of legacy.

A large part of the Majingilane’s vocalisations would have simply been one member of the coalition communicating with the others, something you are only ever likely to need as a big coalition that is constantly separated.

With the Birmingham males – a group of 4 – that is quite possibly what we can expect as they extend the limits of their territory further and further westward.

Birmingham Male Lion Jt

The Birmingham males have hardly ever been viewed as a full coalition of 4 on Londolozi.

A recent sighting of three of these males placed them right in the south-western corner of Londolozi, far from their Sand River stronghold in the east. In fact their initial discovery resulted in some confusion, as in the long grass in which they were lying it was hard to get a clear ID, and the males most recently spending time in that area as a group of three was the Majingilane. As soon as they stood up however, the difference was clear.

Efforts to find them again that evening were unsuccessful. Only a distant roar was heard while one of the rangers had stopped for drinks, but the endless grasslands and round-leaf teak thickets had effectively swallowed them up come nightfall.

The next morning, tracks gave away the direction that two of them had moved in; a huge loop up western Londolozi, eventually making their way back past the Londolozi camps where they were spotted by one of the habitat team (whose name, in a wonderful bit of irony, happens to be Lion) late in the morning.

Better Map1

The route of the two males (route unknown between lower and upper red dotted lines. Blue indicates the position of the Mhangeni sub-adults the next morning, who must have come close to – but thankfully missed – where the Birmingham males moved.

Seeing two big males moving in bright sun when the temperatures are rising rapidly is unusual, but it may well have just been the two lions’ firm intent to make their way back into more familiar territory. Roars had been heard early in the morning in the direction they had come from, but tracks led down into some reed thickets in the Sand River where following with a vehicle would have been impossible. We are fairly confident that the vocalisations had come from the same pair who eventually ended up near the airstrip.

Birmingham Airstrip Jt

One of the males crosses the clearings at the end of the Londolozi airstrip.

A male lion population distributes itself in an almost Brownian motion-like manner. Clashes with other lions result in them bouncing around, and they will move in a direction until coming up against a reason not to do so anymore (read: other males). The Birmingham males I am confident are not hearing the roaring of a dominant coalition to their west, and so naturally move in that direction, in so doing filling up territory left vacant by the Majingilane. This is almost a carbon copy of what the Majingilane did when they took over from the Mapogo, if not quite as dramatic or violent.

If I was a betting man, I’d put good odds on the Birmingham males having control of the vast majority of Londolozi by the end of the year.

Filed under Featured 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 Birmingham Male Lions Push Further Onto Londolozi

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Marinda Drake

Interesting lion dynamics. Will they encounter the Magingilane in the west and will they fight them? The Magingilane probably do not stand a chance against the younger and sttonger males. It is maybe for the best if they establish their territory at Londolozi. It is quite a while since a male coalition controlled the area.

Callum Evans

I knew that this would start happening soon, with the Birmingham coalition starting to make a more determined bid to stake a claim on the reserve. I’d say it’s going to be a very interesting year for the Sabi Sands lions.

Callum Evans

Where are the Majingilane at the moment and what state are they in?

Gabriele La

I love lion dynamics. I have a questiona about it; I ask to you, James, because I know that you love it, too. Do you think it is possible that the Mapogo male known as Makhulu was a litter mate of the older Tailless lioness? They both were born in 1998 I believe, and Makhulu was possibly born in the Tsalala pride. Thank you if you reply and sorry for my bad English.

James Tyrrell

Hi Gabriele,
I’m afraid I have absolutely no idea.
I haven’t heard of him being born into the Tsalala pride but I’ll ask about.
Best regards

Michael & Terri Klauber

James, It feels like new drama on the horizon! Lion dynamics are better than any of the reality shows on TV for sure!

Mary Beth Wheeler

It’s sad to see the decline of the Majingilane, but to have these Birmingham males take over without a major fight would be best all around. We’re looking forward to seeing them for the first time in June!

Tracie Ricketts

While I love these BBoys, i fear that they are getting over their heads with power and control. That is a lions life tho no doubt , lol.. This so far is a true success story for these boys, & I believe a much needed one.
How many prides would you guess from past experiences that a male coalition can successfully control? When you have the larger coalitions like mopogos, majins, bboys, would it be fair to say they will keep taking pride after pride just because they can with their larger coalition numbers? Or is that simply a personal preference between the lions, and how much work they want to put into it.
I just started following these boys over at sabi sands, and i really like them. That my excitement youre reading, first time following a beginning of a successful coalition, hope to watch til the end–years of course.
They seemed dedicated to the nkhumas at first, but now they don’t come around too often. Last week when some young Avocas started scent marking and roaring on bboys territory, three of the bboys ran back the next couple days and made it clear the Nkhumas were still theirs. The BBoys roared with everything thing they had in them It was caught on the Dam cam at night 3/24,3/25,3/26. James do you all share the same live dam cameras or does Londolozi have their own lives feed?
Thank you for listening : )
A very excited future customer

James Tyrrell

Tracie it starts getting to a point of diminishing returns, as the more prides a coalition takes over, the more territory they have to defend and the thinner they spread themselves, making them vulnerable.
If I remember correctly the Majingilane had 5 prides under their control at one time, although my memory might be playing me false.
When the Majingilane go, I’m sure the Birmingham males will set their sights further west, although some of the Mhangeni females have already been coming east to seek them out…
Best regards

Denise Vouri

Wow- interesting dynamics going on here. I would think the Majingilane troop will be on high alert since the Birmingham males are seemingly intent on establishing a new territory. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out – I’m rooting for the home team!!

Mj Bradley

What a treat! The pretty one with the fewest facial scars is Nsuku,(Gold) The one with a scar under his right eye and has the most beat up look is Mfumo (Authority) The one with the = sign on the right side just above his nose is Nhenha ( ) and the last is Tinyo (tooth) there was a 5th male but he was gored by a buffalo and died of what they think was a punctured lung.. His name was Tokoloshe/Scrapper.
We miss them in the North.

Rafael Salvador

I wish they come back to Djuma so i can see dem on safari live..too bad

Myra Geiger

Wow! What a great content, James you’re doing a great job here..Kudos to you and that reminds me, I found something that you might find interesting, it’s a Lions Head Bracelets you can check it out here it looks very cool and nice have gotten one for myself, hope you would find it interesting.


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