The deep south of our traversing area is a difficult place to track animals. Hard road surfaces, long grass as far as the eye can see and scant game paths often leave one scratching one’s head, trying to work out where on earth the predators you are looking for have hidden themselves.
It is in this area however, that one of Londolozi’s most elusive lion prides provides us with occasional drama. The Southern or Selati Pride sometimes poke their noses into our property from the reserves south of us, so it was with great excitement that we received reports of them lying up one evening at a prominent waterhole.
Two Londolozi rangers headed down there early the next morning to try and find them, but three hours of tracking revealed little else but some dusty footprints, a totally consumed zebra carcass, and one slightly scruffy hyena sniffing about. The lions’ tracks headed back over the boundary, so it was to our great surprise that late that same evening, they had crossed back onto our property, and were spotted by tracker Andrea Sithole.
Doubting they would still be there in the morning, we nevertheless returned to the scene, and as we expected, only tracks in the sand heading south over the boundary revealed that they had ever been there.
While scouring the surrounding roads in the hope that they might still be around, we received a radio call from ranger Dean Smithyman that he and tracker Freddy Ngobeni had heard the sound of lions fighting to the east of us. Three vehicles immediately moved into the area, and within half an hour the pride had been found, far to the north of where we expected them to be, outside their usual territory, deep in the territory of the Sparta Pride.
We will never know what the reason for the growling and snarling was. Had the two enormous male lions with the pride (known as the Kruger Males) had a run-in with the Majingilane coalition? Had the pride been fighting over a kill? Blood on the nose of one of the males and a cut on a lionesses’ flank were the only clues as they headed steadily back to more familiar ground in the South. We were content to let the mystery lie, and simply enjoy an exquisite morning with the largest lion pride currently in the Sabi Sand.
Written and Photographed by: James Tyrrell