A few weeks ago we ran a post on why not finding something on game drive is sometimes best.
Well, I take back what I said. Not finding the Sparta pride on a number of occasions recently has started to lose its appeal. I’m kidding here, as tracking lions is always thrilling, whether you find them or not, but the pressures this pride has been placed under by the Styx males has seen them retreating to the furthest corners of their territory in an attempt to avoid the threat of this new coalition. Have a look at the map below to see what I’m talking about. Two separate tracking efforts within the space of a few days both saw us returning to camp in the heat of the late morning, frustrated, and without having glimpsed so much as the whisker of a lion.
To the credit of all the trackers involved, neither tracking attempt resulted in the tracks being lost or anyone giving up, but it was simply that the lions had moved so far that they had left the Londolozi property entirely.
The pride has been moving as a full complement of seven; three adult lionesses and four sub-adults. When the Styx males first started moving onto Londolozi, one of the Sparta lionesses took herself away from the pride, seemingly in an attempt to lure the dangerous Styx males away from the vulnerable young Sparta males. She was seen in the company of the Styx males on a number of occasions after that, but lately it appears she has abandoned her efforts as a decoy, choosing to remain with the pride as they retreat to the far reaches of their territory.
Although she was seen enticing the Styx males, no mating was seen by any of the Londolozi rangers.
Many questions are being raised by the arrival of the Styx males, and not just those pertaining to the hopefully imminent reproductive efforts of the Sparta lionesses. Most of these questions are hard to answer, as most of them begin with the word “when?”.
When will the lionesses mate? When will the young males leave the Sparta pride? When will the Styx males start roaring on the airstrip? When will they encounter the Tsalala pride for the first time?
This is what fascinates me about lions. The unfolding drama as their lives blend into one another’s, with us as the humble onlookers, trying to make sense of it all.
Would anyone like to make a prediction about what is going to happen next? Conflict? Mating? All we really have is conjecture, yet for me, that makes the whole saga way more appealing.
Written and Photographed by James Tyrrell