Stories from the western part of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve are traveling on the winds. The winds of change. It sounds like there is an epic tale unfolding. A tale that, although not currently occurring on Londolozi soil, will undoubtably have a influence on the lion dynamics closer to home.
From the sounds of it the four Southern Males have started to make their move on the three remaining Mapogo Males. Those of you familiar with the story of lion warfare, that has been unfolding since mid 2010, will be aware of the intriguing movements and encounters that have played out. Coalitions of males have been occupying every square inch of real estate in this magnificent wilderness. It appears as if the catalyst may have been a female…one of the members of the Castleton/Ximhungwe Pride has been on heat and the males from both coalitions have been drawn in; both sets of males keen to sire a litter.
A couple of nights ago they had a run in with each other. I have battled to get clarity on actual events but the outcome appears to be that one of the Mapogo Males was injured in the conflict. It is also rumoured that the Southern Males left the scene roaring deep into the night; scent marking in the middle of Mapogo territory. The Mapogo dynasty has been so dominant in this area for a very long time; but all good things eventually come to an end.
I still feel, however, that the Mapogo Males have much to offer and it may still be some time until we see their reign comes to an end. This may,however, be the start of the inevitable. The Southern Males have grown into incredible males; handsome and strong. They have been cornered into a difficult spot. To the south they have the magnificent Kruger Males, to their north they have the six Matimba Males, to the east the killer Majingilanes and to their west the three Mapogo. The weakness, if that is the right word, will be in the aging Mapogo trio.
It may well come down to a bit of a numbers game: 4 young aspiring males taking on 3 older experienced males.
This whole ordeal reminds me of the incident back in June 2011 when the Southern Males, numbering five at the time, made their move on the Majingilane Males too soon. The result was the death of one of the younger males. Who knows how costly the loss of that fifth member may prove to be in the next few weeks?
I will keep you posted as we learn more on this new development and as to how this change may impact the beloved Lions of Londolozi.
Written by Adam Bannister
Photos taken by Khimbini Hlongwane from Inyathi Game Lodge