It was a rainy cold day, unusual for winter, and Alfie Mathebula was driving in a particularly thick section of the reserve, trying to find a leopard.
Tracker Terrence Mahlaba spotted some vultures sitting in a dead Knobthorn tree, and although grey, wet weather often sees vultures spending the day tree-bound as conditions aren’t conducive towards flying, Terrence and Alfie thought that there were a few too many for this to be the case. Also, there were a number of different species together, which is usually indicative of a carcass.
Investigating further, the pair were thrilled to come across three young male lions, which were duly identified as the Tsalala males, feeding on the remains of a zebra carcass.
It’s been a while since this coalition was seen on Londolozi, but with the Birmingham males operating mainly in the eastern parts of the reserve and the Matimba males staying firmly in the western sector, there seems to be a safe neutral ground for an itinerant coalition in Londolozi’s western half.
Ranger Guy Brunskill headed down to the scene of the kill the next day and reported the following:
“When we got there the males were extremely full-bellied, just lying around. We could tell how hungry they must have been as they had literally fed on every last scrap of meat on the carcass; the facial skin and anything else they could scrape off the bone. One male came to lie near our Land Rover, and he was so full that when he tried to roll over, he couldn’t!”
The next morning the males were gone, having completely devoured the zebra, but an absolutely superb tracking effort by Innocent Ngwenya, Euce Madonsela and new Londolozi tracker Tshepo Dzemba found them on a waterbuck kill far to the west.
The trackers had followed on foot for approximately 8 kilometers(!), staying doggedly on the trail through the heat of the day long after all the vehicles had returned for breakfast. It was well after noon before the radio call came through to the camp that they had been successful.
As mentioned above, with far bigger coalitions operating to their east and west, it is hoped that these young males remain in the comparative safety of this central zone in the reserve. With only their sister continuing her lonely wanderings through the northern parts of Londolozi, and the pride they originated from effectively gone, there is very little genetic pressure for them to move elsewhere, so it is more than likely that rival coalitions will be the determining factor in their movements from here on out.