Another member of the infamous Mapogo Coalition has died. Yesterday, the Southern Pride Coalition of males moved deeper into the Western Sector of the Sabi Sands and discovered the Mapogo known by many as ‘Mr T’, owing to the easily recognizable Mohawk shape of his mane.
According to reports, video and pictures from properties in the western sector:
“Radio chatter started early in the morning with tracks indicating that the 2 different coalitions were on a crash course to come into contact with each other in the south western sections of the reserve…This is eventually where they were found, the 4 younger stronger Southern Males circling the already wounded Short Maned Male ( Mr. T ) from the Mapogo coalition…His pain was short lived as he died whilst being observed less than an hour later. His 2 remaining coalition mates, one already suffering wounds from a previous encounter with the Southern Males, headed east, and did not stop running until they had crossed over our boundary, moving into the central regions of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin. Time will tell about their fate, but the expectations are that we will not see them again in the Western Sector.
Despite the loss of another member of the Mapogo Coalition, we would like to make a few points with regards to the history, and why on a ecological level, nothing better could have happened to the Western Sector of the Sabi Sand Game Reserve.
Casting back a few years, 6 to be exact, the Mapogo first made an appearance in March 2006 in the Western Sector, after having floated about the central portions of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin. The anticipation was growing amongst the rangers, following news of the 6 New Male lions creeping ever nearer the Western Sector. What was going to happen? When would they arrive? Where would they cross over? What would happen to the resident Males, and their respective territories? How would the prides be affected?
March 2006 – What a treat to drive around the Western Sector, 4 Different Lion Prides to choose from as far as viewing was concerned! As a ranger, would you go to the Sand River Pride of 2 Females and 8 cubs ( 10 ), would you try and find the Ravenscourt pride of 3 Females and 7 Youngsters (10), how about the Ottawa Pride of two groups of 2 Females and 6 Cubs each ( 16 )and lastly the most resident and impressive Ximungwe Pride of 7 Females and 16 youngsters (23). Add to these numbers the Nhlanguleni Male, The Castleton Male and the Sand River Male, and there were a total of 62 Lions to be seen and viewed, excluding the 6 new arrivals! Lions were flourishing, and the dwindling numbers of lions in the wild were being added to by the very successful breeding of the fertile prides in the West.
March 2012 – Oh how the excitement of the Mapogo arrival was overrated, based on the social structure outcome to the population dynamics of the lions in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin. Yes they provided formidable viewing and photographic opportunities, undoubtedly serving as a huge attraction to a multitude of guests wishing to view and photograph lions of such infamy, but from a species survival point of view, they have done unmentionable damage to the breeding and survival ecology of the lion species in the Sabi Sand Wildtuin, thereby affecting the total African lion population.
Of the original 62 Lions that were present in the Western Sector when they arrived, there are now only 3 origionals left, all belonging to the Ximungwe pride. The remaining lions are, 1 Lioness from the Ximungwe pride that joined from the Tsalala Pride, 4 Youngsters from these females (total – 8) and 2 Ottawa lionesses, both being Mapogo offspring. The Ottawa pride have 4 small cubs( total – 8 ), which in all likelihood will be killed by the Southern Males (to force the females into early oestrous), as will the Ximungwe pride youngsters we suspect.
Ximungwe Pride – 6 Years and not a single cub ( nil – zero – 0 ) has yet to be raised to maturity. That is a shocking statistic when it comes to the fathering and protection abilities of the territorial coalition, the Mapogo. They were more absorbed with their internal conflicts and dominance status within the coalition that they would kill each other’s cubs, the main culprit co-incidentally being the one killed today, Mr.T.
Remaining pride now currently number 8, including the 4 Youngsters whose fate hangs in the balance.
Sand River Pride – Debatable as to whether pressure from the Mapogo pushed them out of the reserve where they died. No Survivors
Ravenscourt Pride – 1 origional lioness of a pride of 10 survived, now part of the Ximungwe Pride.
Ottawa Pride – Presently we only see 2 Lionesses and their 4 cubs. None of the original Lionesses remain.
Sharing these stats I hope to make it clear that the Mapogo, although they will be missed, their inability to increase the lion populations in the Western Sector of the Sabi Sand Wildtuin serves as an indication as to their failures over a six year period, and with the new coalition, we may see natural lion dynamics return, which will include the sizes of prides increasing by: improved fertility, and possible superior paternal instincts to protect their young in order to survive to adulthood, and grow a strong bloodline with improved gene pools.”
It is with anticipation that we wait to see how the Southern Pride Coalition will adapt to life in the Western Sector and to finally having a ‘territory’ of their own. Although nothing is cast in stone, there is very little competition for these males and it is expected that they will become dominant in this area. Another chapter in the Lion Warfare of the Sabi Sands has closed and with it a new one is about to open.
Video Courtesy of Savanna Game Lodge
Report Courtesy of iDube Game Lodge