When I arrived in January it was very clear that the Tsalala pride had a very special following at Londolozi. Currently quite a small pride with a massive amount of history to back them up. The pride had some of the smaller cubs in the area at the time and naturally they attracted some serious attention. At the beginning of the year the cubs were only just starting to keep up with the pride as they moved around their vast territory. They were occasionally being left while the older lions went hunting. The growing cubs were starting to demand more meat and put a little more stress on the pride.
As the cubs continued to grow they got to a point where they were devouring meat at a kill but were too small to help with the hunt. Over the middle part of the year there was a stage where a bit of a lag took place. The cubs were just not contributing and the females were battling to provide the massive amounts of meat that the cubs need to grow as they should. Their coats were not all that sleek and their growth was not consistent. The cubs were by no means unhealthy they were just not growing as quickly as the similarly aged cubs in the Mangheni pride. This all started to change as the winter months dragged on though. The herbivore’s condition started to decline a touch with the deterioration of the vegetation and the predators started to gain a little momentum.
A stint of rather successful winter hunting saw a growth spurt take place, the one year olds were now slowly starting to fit into pride life and looking to contribute. The combination of tough grazing at the end of the dry season and growing lion cubs led to the Tsalala pride successfully hunting a few aging buffalo bulls. The cubs are now looking very healthy and seem to be coming into their own. The three young males’ manes are just becoming visible and they are getting slightly bigger than their female litter mate.
We look forward to the growth of the pride, with two large confident females leading them around this productive piece of bush they will soon be a force to take note of. Larger prey will become the norm and the taking down of buffalo will become more and more regular. The Majingilane coalition seem to be holding on and as long as they continue to do so the pride has a good chance of bouncing back. The low core number of two mature lionesses is now almost three with the sub-adult Tsalala lioness almost fully grown. She is on the verge of mating and the next update could be on her cubs.
Which is your favourite pride seen on Londolozi?
Written and photographed by Simon Smit