Over a year ago, the two huge Matimba male lions simply packed up and left.

Reports filtered in of them heading north, back to their old stomping grounds. Then nothing was seen of them. Then more reports of them popping up to the south. Without any consistent movement being recorded, and with only third-hand information reaching us, they quickly became a thing of the past, especially as the arrival of the Birmingham males took over the coalition headlines.

But now it seems, history has repeated itself, and the Matimba males have once gain moved into a territory recently vacated by the Majingilane.

Two Matimba Male Lion Jt

Although the lighter-maned Matimba male was seen near Ximpalapala Koppie, it has been many months since both of these males were viewed together on Londolozi.

Eastern and north Londolozi were left vacant when that amazing coalition (tribute to them coming soon) moved westwards in the Sabi Sand, and the Matimba pair, recently deposed from the northern sector of the reserve, simply moved in to fill the vacuum. This unexpected windfall came at just the right time for them, and it wasn’t long before they began mating with the Tsalala Pride, producing a number of cubs. Only one Tsalala cub is still alive, but truth be told, we can’t be sure who the father actually was, as both Matimba and Majingilane were possible suspects.
Anyway, the Matimba males were in residence for just over a year before they simply decided to leave. It was a fair number of months before the Birmingham males began making their presence properly felt, so it didn’t seem to us that they were the immediate cause of the Matimba exodus.

Matimba Male Lion Spotlight Jt

We still don’t know the exact reasons the Matimba males vacated Londolozi in the first place.

Whatever the case, the fact remains that the Matimba males moved into Londolozi after the Majinglane moved out, and now they appear to have done the same in the western sector of the Sabi Sand Reserve.

Both the ginger maned Matimba and the male with the hairy belly have been reported mating with one of the Othawa lionesses (report yet to be confirmed), which follows on from a brief sighting of the ginger maned male at Ximpalapala Koppie a few weeks ago. At first there was confusion as to who that mystery lion was, so long had it been since one of the Matimbas had been seen on Londolozi, but after a few references to earlier photos, his identity was confirmed.

Ginger Matimba Male Lion Jt

The lighter-maned Matimba male.

Now, with the Majingilane coalition entirely deceased, the whole western section of the Sabi Sand Reserve is up for grabs, with mating rights to the Othawa and possibly Mhangeni females at stake (and possibly the breakaway sub-adult Mhangeni lionesses, depending on their future), and the Matimba males, in yet another opportunistic move, have been seen roaring and scent marking, proclaiming the territory as theirs.

I don’t know where they have been in the interim, but surely from a purely genetic perspective, their inconsistent movements and relatively short tenures over the areas they’ve occupied can’t have in any way ensured breeding success? A male lion’s role is to protect an area in which the females he’s covered can safely raise their cubs, but occupation for just over a year in each territory almost certainly won’t allow enough time for any of the females to get their cubs through to independence. I don’t know much about these males’ history prior to their arrival on Londolozi in 2015, but I do know that only one of their possible offspring (the Tsalala cub) remains alive, and his future looks bleak, given the age of his mother and the fact that his pride no longer falls under the protection of a dominant coalition. Genetically then, the Matimba males can be deemed failures since 2015.

The lighter maned Matimba male with some of the Tsalala cubs, late-2016. None of these cubs survived.

I speak purely from a male lion-reproduction point of view. One can argue ad infinitum about which coalition did what and who is braver and whose legacy is more powerful, but unless the Matimba males sire cubs in the western sector, and then stick around long enough to see those cubs through to independence, their legacy in the reserve will fall far short of what it could have been….

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 Matimba Males Return

Join the conversationJoin the conversation

Marinda Drake

I was surprised to read awhile ago that the Matimbas have been seen in the south of the reserve. I actually saw reports of them dying. Interesting times ahead.

Lyss Safari

I just wanted to let you know that the Matimbas do have cubs in the Northern Sabi Sands. They even have a young male by the name of Junior who found himself a Buddy and are now up near Orpen gate. Most of their surviving cubs come from the Nkuhuma and Torchwood prides, as I do not believe any of the cubs from the Styx survived the take over.

James Tyrrell

Hi Lyss,

That’s very useful information, thanks for sharing. As I said I don’t know much of their history from before they came to Londolozi, but presumed they had offspring from that era.

Thiago Medeiros

Hello James, how are you? Thanks for one more great article, thanks for this great news! Matimbas are legends too. Nice to see them well. I have some questions:
1- Dark Mane (Majingis) has been found dead or he is presumed dead?
2- The Tribute to the majingis will be a video or an article? (I’m already anxious to know more, sorry rs)
3- How far are the BBoys? Do you see a clash between them and the Matimbas?


James Tyrrell

Hi Thiago,
1 – Dark Mane Majingi is presumed dead. Last seen just E of the Londolozi boundary in Mala Mala and looking in terrible condition.
2 – The tribute will be an article with some photo highlights.
3 – The Birmingham males are occupying the eastern and central areas of Londolozi, while the Matimba males are far west in the reserve, so no I don’t think there will be a clash anytime soon…


Leo Pards

You may blame matimbas for not being good dads in the past 3 years or so but you can take nothing away from them that these are the only Matimbas alive now. They have fought to be alive. They are great survivals after all. I don’t think their reign in West will last long. They will fall sooner than expected. They are not young and they are not in the same physical condition they were a year ago.

Leo Pards

These two Matimbas along with Northern Matimbas sired cubs with Numerous prides. Talamati, Torchwood, Nkhuma, Mbiri, etc. All reached adulthood. They failed with Styx and Tsalala prides.

Mj Bradley

Thank you for the update.. I have been a fan of these two Matimba males for a long time.. Their son “Junior” is the son of the Matimba’s and the Nkuhuma Pride.. He was chased out of the north when the Birmingham’s moved in. He is big like his fathers and quite the handsome boy.

Vaseem Baig

Hi James, this seem surreal news to me, as recently as few weeks ago had seen their photos in which they looked thin and in very bad shape with injuries on their back. Nevertheless it is incredible indeed that these stalwarts have occupied vacant space in western sabisands left by the powerful and legendary Magingilanes…. very interesting times are ahead, thanks for your timely blog.

Andrea Mc Donagh

Great reading be interesting to see how the male dynamics play out..can I ask why males in coalitions are’nt collared ??

Denise Vouri

Aha, so the Matimbas have made their move. It seems that interesting times are ahead within the Londolozi borders, and that between them and the B boys, many cubs could be on the horizon.

The Mhagene females are numerous and seem to roam between Singita, Londolozi and Mala Mala, so perhaps they will become part of this new dynamic. Exciting times ahead.

I’m looking forward to the Majingilane tribute. By now, Dark Mane has joined his brothers- what an amazing coalition!!

Callum Evans

New players in the recent Londolozi Lion Saga. Didn’t consider these two males until as potential benefactors of the death of the Majingilane, but I’d like to see them establish a further genetic legacy.

Ginger Brucker

Those handsome lions know there is no place like home, especially when home is Londolozi!


It’s fantastic that these boys have found a place to settle down but can’t see it for long unless the BBoys decide to stop expanding their territories and prides. How much push back can these old boys give if a younger and/or a larger coalition comes in. The 3 northern Avocas may travel down as their confidence grows and don’t find it wise to challenge the BBoys for Djuma as they are now starting to do.

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