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?
Filed under Wildlife
For now at least, I do not see the younger coalitions as strong enough to dethrone the Majingilane. Maybe in the next six months they can pose a real threat
Great blog Daniel. I do think and hope the Majingilane coalition will still be around for awhile. They have experience on their side. It is great to see the younger males though.
The Matimba males might be more of a threat to the Majingis if the Majingis push themselves farther east and north as the 2 Matimbas have been a regular presence there. Elephant Plains reported last week that a Matimba male was mating with a Manghen (Breakaway) lioness. Also interesting that one of the Fourways males is now mating with a Manghene lioness just yesterday on May 3rd. This was just reported by Elephant Plains.
Thanks. The Fourways look good, the Styx males are getting there and the young Sparta males may soon be a factor. This is going to be an interesting year. Who will be in control by the end of 2015?
Great article and the pictures are amazing! My first time seeing the photo of the 2 Majingilane battle…WOW!! As threatening as the Fourways appear (and ARE!), I’m not yet convinced they will take over much from the Majingilane males. Interesting dynamics going on and I am excited to see what’s to come!Thank you!
Very good article.
The only way I see the Majingilanes being dethroned right now is if they are caught separated from one another.
The younger coalitions aren’t ready yet to take on all four boys at the same time.
The Majingilane are old so it won’t be too much longer before we see a new coalition crowned.
Just not right now.
I agree with the others that the younger lions still need some time to be a threat, at least to their fathers, now between the two coalitions that’s another matter.
The Majingilane maybe old, but they are still magnificent, battle hardened warriors and the thing that presents an advantage to them is that they stay together. I think that, answering your question Daniel, it’s a sign of wisdom. They know they are stronger together, so they prefer to be with a slightly smaller territory, but one they can defend together.
Interesting blog Daniel and the photos are beautiful. There is nothing more impressive than seeing the four Majingilane together…very majestic and powerful. I hope they will reign for a while longer and work their way back to Londolozi. It will definitely be interesting to see how 2015 plays out.
Dan, so exciting – the whole story and all the possibilities! Since we were just at Londoz and witnessed first hand the Styx males not only roaring but cuddling and seeming to mark out a territory. Would you like the video i have of the Styx males roaring to each other? Its pretty cool. Let me know and we can figure a good way to get it to you. Thanks for update — looking forward to keep up with this story!
I am curious about how the four way’so got their name?
I will be at Londo in a few weeks so I hope the action will be front and center!!!!
Very nice writeup Daniel
Very well written – exciting to see what happens!
what hapened to the selati coalition?
Hip Scar Majingilane often wonders off alone not a wise decision considering all the new younger coalitions such as the Matshapiri males the Clarendon Males and there are others including the ones the Majingilane sired themselves and they are getting old it is only a matter of time
Who is in charge now