Just over a week ago we ran a post announcing the first sighting of one of the Matimba males on Londolozi. Since then both males have moved in as a pair, and the first thing they did was to kill a large buffalo bull next to the Sand River. This is over half a ton of bovine; a huge meal for only two lions, even though an adult male can consume almost 20 percent of his bodyweight in a single sitting!
The males fed for over three days. They were right next to a large pool in the river and therefore had easy access to drinking water, and the kill was made in a stand of tamboti trees, so the males were able to enjoy the shade through the heat of the day.
Two nights ago they finished their kill, and their roars sounded throughout the evening, beginning before the sun had set and continuing on into the night. We heard them moving further and further west until their roars were just faint and distant rumbles. They had never been that far west before, as far as we knew.
The next morning (yesterday), reports were that two of the Majingilane and the two Matimba males were found lying up around 500 m from each other. Despite their enormous size, it was reported that the two Matimbas were reluctant to answer the challenging calls of the Majingilane pair. Perhaps they heard the rest of the Majingilane coalition further west and realised the great danger they would face in taking on four male lions.
Would the Matimbas advance, or would the Majingilane? If the Matimbas did advance, would the Majingilane retreat?
As the African dusk descended, the Matimbas ran.
There was no roaring from either side, but the rangers present think that the Matimbas may have heard some contact calling from the Majingilane, thought they were coming, and decided discretion was the better part of valour. The fact that they were looking behind them as they ran indicates that they certainly knew something was coming. Tracks from this morning conclusively showed that the Majingilane tailed the Matimba males all the way through our property, forcing them back east of our boundary and then retreating themselves back west.
So that begs the next question; is the Matimba males’ presence here on Londolozi because of the Majingilane moving out, or are they being pushed here by the advancing Birmingham coalition from the north? Almost certainly a combination of the two in my opinion, but I’m sure there are other factors involved that we are unaware of. It’s difficult to have a serious one-on-one with a lion and ask him what’s really happening, as I’m sure you can appreciate.
My guess is the Matimbas are being pushed into a new area for the first time, and their movement into the west yesterday was merely a probe, testing how far this area extends and how far they can safely move without facing swift retribution from a dominant coalition. They came into contact with the Majingilane and realised they had pushed it too far, so retreated.
What happens next?…
Written by James Tyrrell, Londolozi Ranger
Photographed by Trevor McCall-Peat and Amy Attenborough, Londolozi Rangers