The last 10 days have provided some fascinating developments for Londolozi’s Tsalala Pride. I need to wind back the clock to the night of the 1 November. That night the 2 sisters managed to kill a zebra in a region that historically is some distance south of their territory. At this stage the Tailless Female was not with them as she was still mating with the Scar-Nosed Majingilane Male.
The next morning one of the Rangers went to follow up on the pride to see if they were still feeding on their prize. Their was no trace of the pride; instead a couple of very fat and content looking hyena were sleeping nearby. After a little bit of investigating Alfred and Bennett managed to get onto some fresh tracks and began tracing the steps of the 2 sisters and their cubs. The tracks headed north back into the heart of Tsalala territory. Some time later and the tracks cut into the Sand River… a horrific site was to be had as they found the pride lying in the shade on the banks of the river.
One of the smaller cubs was missing and the mother had been brutally wounded. It looked painful as her back left leg was very obviously bitten and still oozing blood. The big damage however came in the form of her backside…her tail had been bitten and ripped off and it looked terrible. She lay motionless in the shade…the pride was in tatters.
A decision was made to leave the pride alone for a couple of days to let them recuperate and reduce their stress levels. The question on everyone’s mind was what had happened that night. We contacted our neighbours to find out about male lion movements. Through a process of elimination and by the fact that no other lion tracks were seen in the vicinity, we put the encounter down to the actions of a severe lion-hyena encounter.
It was only some 4 days later that the injured lioness was seen. Her leg does not seem too badly injured and she was able to walk. Her backside on the other hand is not a pretty site. Who would have thought that we would have yet another Tailless Female in the Tsalala Pride? Ironic that a very similar incident occurred some 6 years ago to her mother; involving a clan of hyena, a zebra carcass and a litter of lion cubs. So we are all holding thumbs that this special lioness can pull through and that the pride rallies around her in support. Sadly there has been no sighting of the missing little cub so it’s fate seems sealed…I hope I eat my words!
The story is however not all doom and gloom. The Tsalala Pride has thrown us yet another wonderful break…the original Tailless Female has been seen with the pride and has even been seen nestling up to her daughter…the new Tailless Female. Maybe it is the support of a true mother that this lioness needs to pull through this difficult time.
Written by Adam Bannister
Photograph by David Dampier