It would seem that every time we scratch our heads and say, ‘Hmmm, we haven’t seen the Majingilane in a while!” they show up in force, put us in awe of them once more, and then disappear into the wilderness again.
Last week was no exception, as again they were reportedly seen in the far west of the reserve, in company with one of the Otthawa females, expanding their territory in that direction, again leaving the Sparta and Tsalala prides relatively exposed in the East.
One thing these two prides may need to be concerned about is the newly deposed Selati males. They were chased off a buffalo kill by the Majingilane last week and were found wandering east over our boundary one morning by ranger Tom Imrie. Well, at least one was found, softly calling for his brother, whose tracks disappeared into the grasslands. The brother was not found, but sometime during the next night these two remaining males from the original group of five (!) did reunite, and in the morning were found trailing a large herd of buffalo. It took them 24 hours to make their move, but they did eventually bring down a buffalo calf not too far south of the Sand River.
As mentioned last week, it is highly unlikely that these two males will be able to take back their territory from the Majingilane, but since their new existence will – at least for the time being – necessarily be a nomadic one, the Majingilane might have done themselves a disfavour. By focusing their attention on their newly conquered prides in the West, the Majingilane seem to be neglecting the females they have spent the last four years presiding over, namely the Sparta and Tsalala females, and with two big males (Selatis) now moving around as vagrants in the central Sabi Sands, will these two prides and their youngsters be at risk?
The Tsalala pride is currently made up of the two older sisters, the young lioness from the 2011 litter, and the 4 cubs of the older tailed female. 7 lions in total. The Sparta pride is slightly larger at 8 lions, but the 5 young ones are significantly older than the Tsalala cubs, all being roughly around 2 yrs old. All youngsters, whether 2 yrs old or 7 months, would be in serious danger should they bump into the Selati males.
But just when we think the Majingilane have been gone for far too long, back they come with an outrageous display of force, roaring, scent marking everywhere, and making sure that all lions in the area, whether prides or vagrant males, know absolutely that this is their territory.
A few days ago, after an almost two week absence, all four Majingilane were found crossing the airstrip, closing in on a large herd of buffalo that the Sparta pride had been trailing for a day.
When the rangers and trackers went to follow up the next morning, there was no evidence to suggest that they had killed anything during the night, but all four males patrolling the centre of Londolozi served as a poignant reminder that they are still here, they still mean business, and they will most likely be a force to be reckoned with on Londolozi for some time to come.
Written and Photographed by James Tyrrell