Two days ago (28 August) we found what we believe to be the remains of a male lion. Very little of the body remains: only a few fragments of bone, hair and the tell tale dark mane pieces, strewn about over a small area. The grass was flattened in the area suggesting that the animal had been fed on and the carcass finished off, more than likely by hyenas. A closer inspection of the area suggested that the death must have been a couple of weeks ago. There was indeed very little left and so although we can not be 100 % sure,it really does look that way!
Identifying the individual is impossible from the scare remains, but a little bit of ‘detective’ work gives us a good idea as to who it may be. The mighty two Mapogo Males were both seen alive and well a few days ago south of our boundary. This rules out it being one of them. A sighting of the Southern Pride together with the two Kruger Males over a month ago though does shed some light. Rangers reported that one of the males looked in a bad way. We had received reports of a big clash between the Kruger and Mapogo Males just a few days prior to this. On about the 20th July this male was seen again alone; this time in exceptionally poor condition. Where he lay motionless, was about 200 meters from where we found the lion remains! Since then, that Kruger Male, known by many as Limper, has not been seen by any of the lodges in the Sabi Sands. Tracker, Solly Mhlongo, aged the lion remains at 3-4 weeks old…winding back the clock and it all fits perfectly.
So we speculate that the remains we found belong to the missing and now assumed deceased Kruger Male. If it is him, he leaves behind him a single Kruger Male to rule over the large Southern Pride. The cause of his death is, and will probably remain, unknown. Again we can speculate that a run in with the Mapogo or Majingilane Coalitions may have been his downfall.
I welcome you to all comment on whether you think this may be the individual in question and the impacts this may have on not only the Southern Pride, but the entire Lion dynamics of the Sabi Sands.
So pencil in mid- late July 2012 as the possible date of passing for one of the stalwarts of the southern Sabi Sands…
I hope that I’m proven wrong!
Written by Adam Bannister