Munghen, Mangene, Mangeni… I have seen all these versions of the name of the newly named pride of four lionesses previously known as the Tsalala Breakaway Pride. Anyone who knows me well enough will be well aware of the fact that I am annoyingly pedantic about spelling and grammar, and yes I make mistakes as much as anyone, but this whole new-name-of-the-pride thing has been grating me. I took it to Jeffrey Mhlongo and Mike Sithole, two Shangaan men (the language the pride’s name comes from) and two of Londolozi’s respected trackers, and both agreed that the spelling should be “Mhangeni”, which loosely translated means ‘place of the aloe’.
We mentioned a few weeks ago how the pride got their name from a drainage line in the west of Londolozi, and I mention all this here simply to lay the spelling quandary to rest. In haste, I or someone else may revert back to one of the previous misspellings in a future post, and I guess I’m just eager to let my own spelling conscience rest, but all this is really immaterial when we consider the pride at hand.
They have been in the limelight recently, and will continue to be, I’m sure, with their plethora of cubs and potential territorial expansion eastwards across northern Londolozi.
Since the 12th August, when the pride was first viewed on Londolozi as a pride of 13, they have not left the property as far as we know, and have spent all their time around the Sand River and Ximpalapala koppie areas. They have killed Zebra, kudu and impala, and remain well fed, healthy and happy. Reports from reserves to our north are that at least three of the Majinglane have been seen with the pride and cubs, and all the lions seemed happy in each other’s company. This bodes well for the future of the cubs, as stability in the dominant male population is a critical factor in their survival, and as the pride is spending more and more time in Majingilane-controlled territory, and less time further west where they may encounter the Selati males, the danger from rival males is significantly reduced.
I really just wanted to explore the pride dynamic here as an excuse to post some photos of a recent sighting of the cubs at a zebra kill. Ranger Alfie Mathebula was looking for the lions near the Manyelethi riverbed where the females had previously been seen. While driving parallel to the riverbed he and his guests were thrilled to have one of the lionesses suddenly emerge from the guarrie thickets in front of them, with all 9 of the cubs following closely behind her. She led the cubs over the hill and own towards the Sand River, where the other females from the pride were feeding on a zebra in the thickets south of Ximpalapala crest.
An amazing 24 hours of lion viewing were had by anyone visiting the sighting.
As the sun rose the morning after the kill was discovered, the nearby roars of one of the Tsalala females prompted the Mhangeni lionesses to lead their cubs away from the few last bones of the carcass, down to safer ground in the palm thickets of the Sand River.
Yesterday’s post featured some of the footage recorded in the evening and next morning of the sighting, enjoy some of the photos here:
Written and Photographed by James Tyrrell