It was a cold July morning and they were all balled up in a mass of tawny hair underneath the glorious Ximpalapala Koppie. At that stage they looked calm and peaceful; I had no idea of the fury that they would spin over the next 12 months as they swept through the northern Sabi Sands in a quest for total pride domination!
Their reign of terror has been brutal! Slow at first but picking up steam as they gained in confidence. They broke in at our north eastern boundary and made an immediate impact on the much loved Tsalala Pride. In no time they had killed 4 of the Tsalala Youngsters (b. 2009) and sent the legendary Tailless Female running west with 4 youngsters in tow. A year later and Tailless is still going strong north and west of our boundaries; but what we see now is a split Tsalala Pride. The two adult females who gave in to the Majingilanes have both since had cubs with the marauders! One is mothering four delightful cubs and we still wait to see how many new arrivals the other lioness has stashed away in the Manyelethi Riverbed.
After they had taken control of the Tsalala Pride they began to move their boundary south, crossing the Sand River and moving into the heart of Sparta Pride Territory. This movement started putting huge pressure on all the young males in this struggling pride; especially the courageous Tsalala Young Male. The Majingilanes took their time in tracking down and killing the cubs of the ‘Breakaway Sparta 2‘ giving many a false sense of hope that maybe these cubs, fathered by the Mapogo, may just be able to slip under the radar! This was not to be…
Tsalala Young Male has done very well to avoid conflict with this Band of Brothers, but his pride is being depleted around him. One evening we found 3 Majingilanes at Pipeline Pan; lying in their wake was the battered remains of a Sparta Lioness. Her back had been broken and by the next day was no more. Another young Sparta Male also met his demise at the claws of the Majingilanes.
A new threat to total Majingilane domination arose in early 2011 when a coalition of 5 Southern Pride Males (Selati Pride) started moving north into the territory recently vacated by the depleted Sparta Pride. They were younger than the Majingilanes but in a numbers game they were superior. They looked fit, healthy and raring to explore! They moved too soon… In mid June 2011 they paid the ultimate price and one member was caught and killed! It became evident, now more than ever, that these males were not to be messed with.
They are magnificent lions and are rapidly becoming real ring-leaders in the southern Kruger area. Their story is causing waves throughout and they are trying their best to ensure a rich legacy is left. Love them or hate them they are providing us with some of the most entertaining and unexpected sightings.They are still young and my gut tells me that this tale is far from over. Although I was unable to capture it on film I have watched these males chase the legendary Mapogo for kilometers across the grasslands of Londolozi. I have watched them launch full scale attacks on patrolling hyaena and have been fortunate enough to have them roaring feet away from my vehicle!
So what could possibly stand in their way…Greed!
As they continue to expand their boundaries south and west so they take more land. More land equals more lionesses and ultimately more cubs sired into the next generation. But this land grab also opens them up to counter attacks from other coalitions that can move in from the Kruger area! Often we will find these males all alone or in pairs. They must be doing this in an attempt to patrol what is now a huge territory. If they proceed in this fashion then they begin to lose out in the numbers game. Already we are hearing rumours of a coalition of 6 males somewhere north of us.
It is wildly exciting to be a nature guide during this transitional time and to watch everyday as one of the most brutal, yet natural battles unfold. We are witnessing the ‘Kings of the Jungle’ fight it out for ultimate supremacy and I can tell you that it is spectacular! Those of you who have been fortunate enough to witness a part of this story will have their own thoughts on what is happening but no one can lie that we are merely spectators in this epic!
I’m appealing to all of you who have good knowledge of these lions to help out here…I am wanting to try get an idea of the size of their territory. I would love you to write comments on where you think their north, east, south and western borders are and then try and add to the list of lions who have had fatal encounters with the Majingilane in the last year…
- 1 Mapogo Male (Kinky Tail)
- 4 Tsalala Youngsters
- 1 Sparta Female
- 1 Sparta sub-adult Male
- 3 Breakaway Sparta Youngsters
- 1 Southern Pride/Selati Male
Written and photographed by Adam Bannister