Are we going to lose the Majingilane?
This is the question all the rangers and trackers at Londolozi are asking. The last few months have been rife with speculation as to the future of this coalition; possible threats, their steady advance towards old age, and whether or not they would look to expand their territory.
Women, it seems, have a way of complicating things, and it is no different with lions. The Mhangeni pride seems to be the cause of all the trouble. Fluttering their eyelids at the four powerful males, the young lionesses have been enticing them ever westwards into the new territory they are establishing, and it seems like the mighty Majingilane may be looking to set up shop further west.
A few days ago Head Trainer of the Londolozi Tracker Academy, Renias Mhlongo, together with his team, followed tracks of two male lions down into the southern areas of the property. They found these two males following a herd of buffalo. We followed their tracks the next morning and found them with full bellies lying up at a nearby waterhole. A few days prior to this, trainee ranger Sam Chevallier, out learning the roads in the deep southern reaches of Londolozi, was charged on foot by two unknown male lions. Sam stood his ground, and apart from a slightly elevated pulse and some shaky knees, survived the encounter.
But who were these males?
A lot of the reports we get here are second hand, but we have reason to believe the Sparta young male has been killed, leaving only the Tsalala young male out of those two.
Other recent reports are that the Majingilane have again been in the Western Sector of the Sabi Sands, chasing the Selati males. The two that have been hanging around in the South appear to be these same males, displaced from their territory by the Majingilane. It is highly unlikely that they would succeed in returning and ousting the four Majinglane, especially if there are only two of them left. The unaccounted for male may well be dead.
Should this be the case, it may well mean that the Majingilane now control an area stretching all the way from the Kruger Park to the Western boundary. More than half of the 65000 ha Sabi Sands will be patrolled by their padded feet, and their roars may be heard in all four corners of the reserve.
But what does that mean for us?
With the Ximungwe and Otthawa prides in the west now falling under their control, it has only been on sporadic forays onto Londolozi that we have been viewing the Majingilane. The Sparta pride females will likely be coming into oestrus soon, but with huge distances to cover between them and the prides in the west, the males will be spreading themselves very thin, leaving their borders weakly defended. The prides they rule over would be Sparta, Tsalala, Mhangeni, Otthawa and Ximungwe. More than enough mating opportunities to hopefully satisfy these power-hungry males.
But it may lead to their downfall. Isolation and solitude may well be what they spiral down into, forced to spend long periods alone to patrol their territory.
Should new coalitions set their sights on this prime territory, they would likely find the Majingilane split up and weakened as an entity. Those who knew the Mapogo saga may see something eerily familiar in all this. A powerful coalition, covering a huge area, but no longer as intimidating as they were when together as a group in a consolidated territory.
Let’s watch and see what happens.
Written and Photographed by James Tyrrell