I have been lucky enough to witness some amazing lion fights – males mostly chasing other males, battling over territory, mating rights and food. These fights usually involve short bursts of energy, immense brutality and ferocity, lasting around 15 seconds followed by lying around and growling.
I met my guests early one morning last week with the plan to follow up on the Mhangheni pride who had been seen feeding on a buffalo near our causeway on the southern bank of the Sand River the night before. Meanwhile, the day before, Tracker Like Gumede and I, had tracked and found the Tsalala pride. The pride were feasting on a fresh buffalo kill that they had killed in front of Varty Camp within the Sand River. The two prides were less than one kilometre apart from each other.
As we headed out, James Tyrrell located the three members of the coalition who had chased the Mhangheni pride from their kill. The tracks of the pride pointed in the direction of where the Tsalala pride were on their kill. I made my way to the last position of the Tsalala pride and arrived on the scene as the chaos began to erupt. The Mhangheni females charged in forcing the Tsalala pride off their kill and mauling the Tailless lion’s hind quarters in the process. The Tsalala pride, whose territory this is, managed to regain control and joined shoulder to shoulder, the pride then proceeded to force the four Mhangheni females to retreat for about 200 metres. The battle of these two legendary prides of Londolozi then kicked off with such ferocity. It is the first time in my career as a guide that I have witnessed a fight of this intensity. Before me a blur of fangs, claws and angry muscle – seven of the biggest lionesses tearing into each other in a huge cloud of dust.
Of course all the cubs, from both prides scattered in all directions, I imagine that none of them had ever witnessed their mothers battle it out in this way. With all the noise of the lionesses growling and roaring at each other, the three coalition who were in earshot of the battle immediately left their stolen buffalo carcass and charged to the battle. On the males arrival, it seemed like they had neutralised the fight and it ended as quickly as it began, with Tsalala pride being out numbered and beating a hasty retreat to retrieve their terrified cubs. The Mhangheni females settled down with the males, they only seemed interested in mating with the females until they realised that there was another half eaten buffalo not far away and soon lost interest in all other matters except for feeding.
The Mhangheni pride, a day later, headed back west to their territory trying to regroup and the Tsalala pride regained a hold of their territory. One lioness from the Mhangheni pride remains missing, otherwise all the other lions of both prides are in good health. The Tailess female, battered and bruised, will make a full recovery from her ordeal. The battle may have been won by Mhangheni but the epic war of these two mother daughter prides is surely not over…
Written and Photographed by: Lucien Beaumont
Have you ever witnessed a lion fight before? If you have, please share your story with us below, we’d love to know.
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