The Mhangeni pride continue to push the boundaries of their areas of operation. I hesitate to call it a territory yet, as they continue to surprise us with the places they appear in. Their current cubs are still nine strong, and in an area with such a high level of cub mortality, it is a phenomenal achievement by these 4 young lionesses, getting them to this age successfully. It is certainly too early to count our chickens, but with the Majingilane being regularly encountered with the pride, and minimal pressure from other areas, it seems like the cubs have the best start they could get in life.
With the lionesses continuing to move the cubs through new areas however, comes the chance of bumping into rival prides. The South pride is still making regular forays into southern Londolozi and our western reaches, and the Mhangeni pride stands a chance of bumping into them.
3 weeks ago ten members of the South pride were hunting buffalo around Castleton camp, and only a few days ago the Mhangeni females were hunting wildebeest on exactly the same clearings. Until it actually happens, it is pure speculation as to who would dominate in a clash, but unless firm territorial lines become firmly drawn, that is precisely what could happen.
Between Londolozi and the western sectors of the reserve lies a relatively unclaimed area in terms of lion prides. The Ottawa pride have been seen moving east into this zone, the South Pride has moved far west through it, and now the Mhangeni females are being seen further south and west than normal. The zone lies between the territories of the four Majingilane and the three Selati males, and both coalitions seem relatively content with the territories they currently hold, with neither group making any attempt at further expansion.
It is unlikely that the Mhangeni females will want to push too much out of Majingilane territory. With the protective umbrella of the cub’s fathers removed, the pride could find itself in trouble. Although popping up in unexpected parts of the reserve, they have still always been within ear-shot of the safety net of the Majingilane’s territorial roars.
As soon as they venture far enough into unfamiliar territory to start hearing other males roaring nearby, it is likely that they will decide that that is quite far enough.
Written and Photographed by James Tyrrell