Yesterday morning had a slow start to it. It was a grey day in the Lowveld with the clouds scudding across the sky and a chilly wind blowing. Mike Sithole had heard lions roaring as he pulled the Land Rover into the car park at dawn and was convinced it was the two Styx males that had been hanging around the centre of the property.
We headed in that direction, and when we were nearly at Pipeline Pan, where Mike thought the roars had been emanating from, he spotted tracks of a pride crossing the road. As it turned out, the tracks were a red herring, and after an hour’s fruitless effort in which we had yet to find any lions (we believe the tracks were of the Styx pride moving through), ranger Ntsako Sibuyi found the two Styx males exactly where Mike had guessed they would be. Slightly annoyed with ourselves for being distracted by the tracks of the pride, we nevertheless joined Ntsako and still enjoyed a great sighting of the two male lions in the open.
Barely thirty minutes later, Greg Pingo made the surprising discovery of three of the Majingilane males, rare visitors to Londolozi these days, lying barely 400m from the Styx males as the crow flies.
We presumed the Majingilane had moved south in response to the Styx males’ roaring, and we anticipated some action that night. We made sure we were on the scene early in order to be there should anything develop.
It was not to be however, and despite some early signs that the Majingilane looked likely to move, they decided to fall asleep instead. The Styx males, for reasons initially unknown, began moving back east quite early in the evening, and quietly, not roaring into the gathering dusk, which would have been a sure invitation for the Majingilane to bring down swift retribution on them.
We found out later that the missing Majingilane (Dark maned male) had been calling to the west of Londolozi, and it was most likely his calls that prompted a retreat by the Styx males.
Despite the proximity of the two coalitions to each other through the whole day, neither was aware of exactly how close the other was, and what could have developed into some kind of exciting interaction instead ended up in both coalitions walking silently off into the darkness in opposite directions.
Something did happen during the night, however, as ranger Melvin Sambo discovered two unknown male lions on our eastern boundary this morning, and with reports from our east indicating that only a single Styx male was found, and the fact that he and the unknown pair were both roaring, it seems likely that some kind of interaction took place during the hours of darkness. The Styx males moved away from the Majingilane only to bump into an unknown entity encroaching from the opposite direction. Ironic.
Things are heating up for the lions here on Londolozi…
Written and Photographed by James Tyrrell