The Majingilane Coalition and the Southern Pride were close to each other. Both prides lying unaware of each other’s presence a mere 900 meters apart, we knew we were in for a potential evening showdown as dusk settled in. First the Southern Pride yawned, stretched and then rose to begin walking east into Majingilane territory. Moments later the radio crackled – the Majingilane Coalition were now also active and beginning their routine patrol…
The sound of impala alarming stopped the Southern Pride in their tracks. Realizing the impala weren’t alarming at them they stared into the darkness to see the shape of a leopard walking down the road. The unsuspecting Nottens female froze upon seeing the lions, but quickly fled up a nearby Marula tree when the Southern Pride came chasing after her. Interest was lost quickly and the pride carried on eastwards.
Meanwhile, the Majingilanes had also heard the impala alarming and quickened their pace to investigate from the opposite direction. The three males stood on the crest of the road, sniffing the air, panting misty breaths of menace as the Southern Pride continued walking straight towards them, unaware. Then with stiffening bodies, the two prides saw each other and froze still.
A quick glimpse left and right, tails straightening, the Southern Pride knew they were in trouble and spun around to sprint west back down the road. The Majingilane Coalition began their chase in hot pursuit, roaring incessantly at full pace. Each of the lions disappeared as they broke through the bush in full flight whilst we desperately tried to keep up.
Suddenly we heard the unmistakable bellows of a fight, in the bush to our west. We ventured in and found what we had feared: the 3 Majingilane males sat panting next to the badly wounded Southern Pride young male. The unnatural angle of his hips was a sure sign that his back had been broken. His head was up, and he was breathing hard through an open mouth. There was a deep puncture wound on his shoulder. Every time a Majingilane moved, he mustered a low growl. The 3 attackers were quiet but attentive to the night sounds; it seemed as though they were waiting for the rest of the Southern Pride to come to their fallen comrade. They never did.
The next morning, we saw that the 3 coalition members had gone north across the river causing more disruption as though unable to control the sudden burst of testosterone, dominance and aggression caused by the nights activities. The Southern Pride young male lay dying in the same spot, whilst rest of the 5 members of Southern Pride were all located together on Castleton – far west of the Majingilanes’ territory. Later that day, the young male died as a result of his injuries, his regal body now a part of the earth and his noble spirit moving through the ether. The Lion Warfare continues…
Written by: Talley Smith
Photographed by: Rich Laburn