The lion dynamics at Londolozi continue to be intriguing. Every morning the ranging team heads out into the bush hoping to link another piece of the jigsaw puzzle together. Quite simply the fact that there is no fence between the Sabi Sands Game Reserve and the Kruger National Park makes for a natural ecosystem, natural movements of nomadic lions and a constant shifting of territories. It has the makings of the very complicated soap opera…
A brief timeline of events over the last month or so:
2 of the 4 Magijilane Coalition came south onto Marthly and managed to kill not one but two buffalo within a stonesthrow of Ximpalapala Koppie. They ventured between these two kills scaring off the hoards of vultures that collected over the three days. When only the skeletons remained they headed back north.
One of the young males from the Tsalala pride was seen alone looking very sorry for himself and very skinny. He had wandered north into the area in which he had been born, constantly contact calling he was obviously trying to reconnect with his pride.
After a long absence from Londolozi the Tsalala Pride where tracked from Taylors Crossing all the way to the Manghen drainage line where they had managed to kill an adult zebra. When they found the pride in the morning it consisted of 3 adults and 5 youngsters…the missing male must have been the unhappy looking individual seen two days prior. Upon returning to the zebra kill that evening I was delighted to see that the young male had managed to re-join the pride. Still looking a little worse for wear he ate as much as possible to try regain some strength.
The Tsalala pride were back to their best, enjoying spending time on their original homeland they now managed to bring down a buffalo in the open areas of Londolozi.
3 Members of the Magijilane Coalition were found eating a very large buffalo about 500m south of our northern boundary. They were to feed on this meat for 2 days before moving off back north. In their absence not only did the vultures move in but so did two of the Nyelethi Leopard Youngsters who were seen feeding on the carcass on the third day. By the 4th day there was still some meat left and we were amazed to find the much-debated Golf Course Male scavenging. His characteristic heavy limp, damaged eye, scar on the nose, receding mane and scar on back left hip gives him away. It is amazing to see how this males mane has thinned out to nearly nothing in the last three months.
The entire Tsalala pride (9) was seen very close to camp. That night we sat with them as the 2 adult females left the Tailless Female to look after the remaining 6 youngsters to try their luck at hunting. After an unsuccessful night we managed to relocate them as they had regrouped and were slowly moving back west past Taylors Crossing. I find it intriguing that after months of not being at Londolozi they are now feeling the need to come back to their natal area. Is it because they think things are settling down on the eastern front with the new Magijilane coalition, or is it that things are becoming very unsettled in the west with the remaining Mapogo?
After a morning of tracking we found a very well fed Tsalala pride on our northern break…nearby we had tracks of the Magijilanes.
Lots of roaring and noise was heard during the night so the rangers went out to find what had happened. We found one Magijilane male mating with one Tsalala adult lioness; following this were the remaining three males. By that evening one of the males had managed to find the other Tsalala lioness and had begun mating with her. This left two Magijilane males to themselves. So what did they do? They went and stole a buffalo from the Sparta Pride and then proceeded to put on a massive vocal display as they summoned not only their brothers but their mating partners. They continued to change partners and lots of mating, feeding and roaring continued over the next few days.
The 4 Magijilane Coalition Males were found sleeping in the north in Marthly.
So now the Magijilanes have mated with the two 8 year old lionesses from the Tsalala pride. We have not seen the Tailless Female or the 6 youngsters for nearly a week. Is it possible that the two lionesses could see trouble brewing with the Magijilanes and so decided to buy time by mating with them, allowing the Tailless Female time to lead her precious young and inexperienced pride away from trouble?
We will wait to see what happens in 3 months time (The approximate gestation period for lionesses).
This story of the Tsalala Females and Majingilane males reminds me of what happened earlier this year when two adult lionesses from the Sparta Pride intercepted the Mapogo Males (Satan and Kinky Tail) to mate with them and stall them whilst the Sparta Pride, including the Tsalala Young Male, made a desperate run for the west. The result was three little cubs born into a turbulent time. Interestingly we have now seen, within the last 2 weeks, the breakaway Sparta Lionesses trying to reintegrate their new cubs into the core of the Sparta Pride. We think this process may take time as the initial introduction of the fatherless cubs to the remaining pride members was received with mixed emotions, some licking and a fair amount of growling, snarling and even physical fighting…but the cubs are alive and doing very well. We often encounter them and hope that they will play a role in the Sparta Pride. The prospect of a pride of 14 is very tantalizing.
Let us know your thoughts to the questions posed above. As the nature of wildlife is never absolute, every opinion and rebuttal is interesting to discuss. To catch up on the rest of the Lion Warfare Series you can follow these links.
And so it goes on, the story continues…
Written by: Adam Bannister
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