Have you ever heard the call of a lion echo across the valley on a cool winter morning? It somehow manages to drown out anything else and capture our attention, more so than the vibrant dawn chorus that is a seeming whisper in comparison. It is one of the most spectacular sounds. Not only for the pure vocal beauty but because of what it signifies. This is the advertisement of the lion, a species that is at the top of the food chain. Lions vocalise for several different reasons. The first and foremost reason is to stake a claim to the land and the resources that they need in order to survive.
Of late the lions vocalisation across the Sand River carries a feeling of unease. Which lion is calling? Who are they calling? We find ourselves on the eastern periphery of the Majingilane territory. These males have been, without question, the dominant lions at Londolozi during my time here. Now for the first time I find myself questioning who does the land belong to? We have the four massive Majingilane whose presence is not seen as often as it once was. They seem to have established a massive territory which extends beyond their capabilities. Are they now finding it difficult to travel so far east? A sign of age? Or perhaps a sign of wisdom? Their territory seems to be maintained by the physical geography of the Sand River, holding an abundance of life.
Due to their lack of presence we now find two different coalitions coasting up the eastern boundary probing further west everyday, no doubt looking for any sign of weakness from the Majingilane. The two Fourways males have a menacing appearance and seem more than up to the challenge of a fight. Scars from previous battles or lessons perhaps, show a certain experience that may fair them in a better position to take new dominance. Perhaps they are over zealous and their aggressive nature will leave them exposed to a true display of aggression from the well-versed Majingilane? Or, perhaps the young and healthy-looking Styx males will seize an unsuspecting chance at the throne?
The Two Styx males are truly beautiful specimens. The bigger of the two has the most spectacular mane. The other whilst not as large has a stocky appearance that shows his strength and ability to hold his own in a battle. However we cannot help but notice the untouched coats that shimmer like gold in the morning light. Do these two have the experience to achieve such a bold challenge? Will their youthful over eager attitude ultimately lead to their demise? Time will tell.
These are the unanswered questions I ponder whilst roaming the beautiful landscape. All I have known is the utter dominance of the Majingilane. This makes it difficult for me to consider a true threat from the younger coalitions. Every morning that I wake up to the sound of a lion bellowing into the mist, I can’t help myself but wonder whom it is? I can’t deny the deep feeling I have that change is about to come. However unnerving it may feel I am very excited to be a witness in this spectacle of nature.
Written by: Daniel Buys, Londolozi Head Ranger What are your thoughts? Do you think there are any real threats to the Majingilane?