An old male lion, ousted from his territory and suddenly nomadic, will always have a haunted look in his eyes.

Without trying to sound fanciful or assume he has human emotions, you can see that the reality of his situation has in whatever way it does for lions, started to sink in. With no more pride to provide regular meals, no more territory to defend, and with almost every roar in the night air the sound of an enemy that will wish to kill you, the harsh reality for these males is that they have switched roles from the hunter to the hunted.

Such was the case with the Scar-nosed Majingilane when I saw him this morning. Gaunt and weathered, he was moving through a relatively open space to the north of camp. It was still early and the air was still, yet he wasn’t roaring. He wasn’t even listening for roaring, something he would have done time without number when he and his coalition were dominant over probably half the Sabi Sand Wildtuin.

Scar Nose Majingilane Land Rover Jt

The Scar-nosed male walks past ranger Pete Thorpe’s vehicle.

He had an air of defeat about him, and his sunken eyes with dark rings around them that indicate a male lion at the end of his days, didn’t instil a feeling of awe as they must have done to observers thousands of times. No, what I and I’m sure others felt while watching him move through the gwarrie bushes was an emotion I’ve never before had one of this magnificent coalition evoke in me.

It was pity.

Scar Nose Majingilane Portrait Jt

The Scar-nosed male in his prime. March 2014

Scar Nose Majingilane Jt

The Scar-nosed male, April 2018. A shadow of his former self.

Reports have been filtering in over the last while that a second member of this coalition has died. The Golden mane or Missing canine male, whichever title people chose to call him by, has not been seen for a few weeks. One report said that he had been badly injured by a buffalo, and as an older lion is far less able to recover from a serious wound than a young one in its prime, it would come as no surprise to find out that he succumbed to injuries sustained.

In a way the sequential and individual demise of each member of the coalition is fitting.
The hip-scar male was the first to go, as we always suspected he would be. Somehow the outsider of the group, he was always the one off on his own, his roars regularly going unanswered by his brothers.

The Missing canine male, although he spent more time with the Dark-maned and Scar-nosed males, seemed to be firmly established as the third most dominant, never taking first mating rights over oestrus females.

The Scar-nosed and Dark-maned males themselves were always the core of the group. Almost inseparable, if there were two Majingilane together it would almost invariably be them.

But now even this formidable twosome seems to have split, quite possibly for the last time. The Dark-maned male was reportedly seen on Sabi Sabi two days ago, badly emaciated and seemingly in no condition to hunt for himself (report to be confirmed), and then the Scar-nosed male was seen this morning on Londolozi, also looking frail.

Scar Nose Majingilane Skinny Jt

A depleted mane is one of the first signs of a male lion in poor condition. One can see just how skinny the male is in this photo. How long can he last in this condition?

With no coalition actively having forced these male out, it seems like age has finally caught up with them.

After 8 years of dominion over much of the Sabi Sands, and having ousted and then warded off numerous other coalitions, the only adversary for which they had no defence, was time.

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 The Final Demise of the Majingilane

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Alessandra Cuccato

I will miss not seeing these guys around anymore. They were still in very good condition back in november. It amazes me how quickly animals deteriorate once age sets in

James Tyrrell

Hi Alessandro,
Yip, it was literally only a couple of months ago that they still looked great.

Marinda Drake

It is so sad to read this. It is an end to an era. The Magingilane was such a formidable coalition. We were priviliged to view them often when they were in their prime. It is sad to see them looking the way they do. It is part of life but still difficult to accept.

Michael Melendez

So sad but This was eventually going to happen .. Almost 8 Yrs of dominance and fathering numerous cubs. Their legacy will live on … Much Respect to this Coalition

James Tyrrell

Hi Michael,
Well said.

Marinda Drake

James I have just read your blog again that you posted 27 June last year about the Magingilane. Little did we know 10 months on they might not be around anymore.

James Tyrrell

Hi Marind,
Indeed, it came much sooner than we expected.

Thiago Medeiros

Another great article, but what a sad news. This is one of the most powerfull and successfull coalitions that I have ever seen. Somehow they will always be remembered, untill now, only beaten by father time. James, do you think that the BBoys will now take their prides? Wouldn’t that be too many territories to cover?

James Tyrrell

Hi Thiago,
I imagine the Birmingham males will move in, yes.
The Mhangeni females have already been coming west to mate with them, and it should be a simple matter for these males of taking over now-vacant territory.

Liam Donnelly

Sad to see, I will never forget seeing these magnificent males crossing a river in the golden hour one afternoon on a game drive in Londolozi back in 2013. I’ve seen them just about each trip since too and always been in awe of them. They will leave an amazing legacy which it quite something in such a competitive area for lions, but old age gets us all in the end!

James Tyrrell

2013 would have been in their heyday Liam; must have been a magnificent sight!

Joanne Wadsworth

Even though inevitable, still tragic and pitiful to watch….like the emaciated lioness not long ago.

Gian Albano

Well written, James. Hopefully you guys run into Dark-maned also (& possibly Golden-maned) soon.

James Tyrrell

Thanks Gian.
Update on Dark-mane male coming out today.

Mj Bradley

Not many of your blogs bring tears, but this surely does. The passing of a wonderful coalition of beautiful males. I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to follow their lives here and on the many FB pages that share their information. My two favorite coalitions are The Majingalane & The Matimbas. Both of these are passing into memory. But I am thankful they were here and shared their time with us.

Vaseem Baig

James, This is the most emotional moment for me as far as the Magingilane male lions are concerned. I had seen them at very close quarters about two and half years back when they were in top condition. Scarnose was the second male lion i saw in wild and this sighting is firm in my memory.

It is difficult for me to see any Lion dying and this report of your is very disturbing but will overcome soon as I know very well, it is part of natural cycle. Maybe it’s my wishful thinking that both Dark mane and Scarnose join again but as you have mentioned earlier in blogs, the nature is unpredictable and springs a surprise many at times……look forward to know more about them, therefore please keep us updated and thanks a lot for sharing this news.

James Tyrrell

Hi Vaseem,
Absolutely. The dark-maned male was found in the deep south this morning. Update on him coming soon.

James Tyrrell

Hi Vaseem,
Sadly they are at completely opposite ends of the reserve, so I think it is very doubtful that they will meet up.
We will keep you posted.

Vaseem Baig

Thanks very much James for keeping us (lion fans) updated about Magingelanes, really appreciate it.

Gabriele La

In my opinion summer (when buffaloes and other preyes are strong ) has also played a key role in their demise

James Tyrrell

Hi Gabriele,
interesting thought; this may well have something to do with it!

Ray Trejo

It seems there won’t be an 8th year for these Lions. Their fall was quick, ironic because they lasted long by avoiding big conflicts in key spots. But now they don’t have the numbers that once was their calling card. Since they’ve never been good fighters in small numbers im afraid they will get picked off easily by rivals.

James Tyrrell

Ray in the stat they’re in it might not even come to them being picked off. They may just fade out sadly.

Laura Eberly

Beautifully said, none of escape time… no matter how strong, powerful, revered or loved..this is the lesson of the Sabi Sands and nature, thank you!

Andrea Mc Donagh

So so sad when make lion coalitions come to an end especially when theres an emotional attachment to them ..
It will be great though to see new blood and new males in their prime come into the territory soon new beginnings and I for one will look forward to reading about them …

Malavika Gupta

How heartbreaking. We saw three of the males in January of this year, roaring and looking so much better than in the photo you posted. Who knew that in just three more months, the one with the missing canine would be no more and the others would also be well on their way out.

James Tyrrell

Hi Malavika.
We also enjoyed a sighting earlier this year in which three of them looked utterly magnificent.
The end came far sooner than we expected.


I am greatly grieved to see these wonderful males slip into oblivion. This was the first coalition I got to ‘know’ when I first started watching SafariLive. They were the lions we saw most often on Djuma (occasionally the Mapogos), and I’ve always loved them. Such magnificent big boys. I hate to see such glorious creatures getting thin and fading away. I and I like to think their preference would be to go out in a battle, whether with a buffalo or other lions. I know, anthropomorphizing. Needless to say, the Majingalane will live on in many people’s memories.

James Tyrrell

Hi Vicky,
Agreed, with countless thousands of photographs taken of them over the years, they will remain iconic.

Lynn Rattray

I so enjoyed viewing these brothers in 2014. They were magnificent and still are to the bitter end. We watched the cubs of several of their females feeding on a zebra kill so I hope some of them grew up to carry on the legacy. So sad, but I do appreciate your posting.

James Tyrrell

Hi Lynn. We’ll monitor the situation as it continues, but I think they may be very close to the end.

Mary Beth Wheeler

The end of an era, for sure. My photo archives include wonderful images of them going back to 2010, the most exciting when Milton tracked them on foot and found all 4 together, calling Melvin & us to the sighting. What an experience! They will be gone but tales of them will be told for years….

James Tyrrell

Hi Mary Beth,
That’s a special memory – 4 together was an uncommon sight!

Denise Vouri

James, your thoughts, observations and knowledge of the Majingilane makes for a thought-provoking article. I’ve never seen this group, but have observed others of their ilk, and sadly age does come around….. limiting the ability to stay in charge and remain well fed. Again my heart is heavy as I don’t like to see animals such as Scarnose fade away into the sunset like this but perhaps like the Tsala female, he will find a safe place and his heart will cease to beat, ending a brilliant life and leaving behind a significant legacy.

Deana Amendolia

Although quite aged I did not expect the three of them deteriorate so quickly. Having watched this mighty coalition since 2011 this is very sad to see.

James Tyrrell

Hi Deana,
Their decline was unexpectedly rapid! Very sad indeed!

Michael & Terri Klauber

James, Although not unexpected, we find the news very sad. Having gotten to know them while at Londolozi and through the 1000’s of photos we have taken of the Majingilanes, our memories of them in their prime will not be forgotten. Their rule was impressive and their lineage will carry on….

James Tyrrell

Hi Michael and Terri,
I remember one sighting with you in particular in which three of them were chasing some of the Tsalala females up and down and back and forth across from Pioneer Camp, and we literally didn’t know what was happening. All just confusion and roaring and running.
Pretty dramatic stuff.
They will be missed.

Michael & Terri Klauber

OMG, do we remember that! We were all worried that they were going to kill the young female and one of the adults (think it was Tailless) snuck her across the Sand River while the other female distracted the males! The Majingilanes had just reunited and we didn’t know which way to look! Lions everywhere! Great memory – thanks James!

David Finkle.

I have a close up picture of scar nose’s face hanging in a prominent location in my office that I took in 2014. This is truly a sad story, but it is the circle of life. James, thank you for wonderful blog and keeping us all updated. It makes me feel like I am still there when I am able to read your blog and connect with the same animals that I observed even 4 years ago!

James Tyrrell

Hi David,
Thanks for the kind words.
More updates coming soon…

Darlene Knott

So very sad to see these regal animals look so weak! But just like humans, eventually time does us all in! I am sure it is heartbreaking to see this in person, especially if you have spent a lot of time with this coalition. Life goes on as it has before and long after this formidable team is all gone. Thanks for the photos and story, James.

James Tyrrell

Hi Darlene,
It is sad to see. But we can be glad that they’ve had an incredible run of it!

Nick Bokone

We had an amazing experience with this coalition and the larger pride the day before Christmas 2017 thanks to the good folks at Dulini, especially Dinamosi and Issac. Scar Nose and Dark Mane left large impressions on my soul when they looked directly into my eyes. You could see the freedom, the power, the age, the experience in both of them. Thanks for the update on these magnificent animals.

James Tyrrell

Hi Nick,
you’re welcome.
The Dark Maned male was seen yesterday and is also skeletal sadly.
It won’t be long now.

Shwan Hamasaeed

Hi James.
So where are the golden mane and dark mane my mate. Please

Iris Lane

He looks so thin! Our elderly cat went that way too. All you could feel when you stroked him,(which he liked) was fur covering bone. He disappeared one night and despite searching, we could not find his body. I suppose some fox ate him when they found him dead in a hedge somewhere. Shame but he lived until nearly 19. Many a vole or mouse died by his stealthy hunting!

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