“Out of the frying pan and into the fire”, could really be the history of the Tsalala pride summed up in one short idiom.
We have been discussing the future of the young male lions in the Tsalala pride over the last few months, and the main threat within their territory being in the form of the newly deposed Matimba males.
Trouble has now arrived in the form of the very coalition that deposed the Matimba males to begin with. I have misused the word “arrived” here as the Birmingham coalition have yet to make proper inroads into Londolozi territory, but it seem as if the Tsalala pride, in an attempt to avoid the Matimba males, have run slap bang into them.
Reports are sketchy at best, but it seems the pride recently had a run in with the Birminghams to the north of our boundary, and now find themselves in a three-way split. One of the young males was reported missing immediately after the interaction, and there is a tendency to assume the worst in a situation like this, especially when it comes to the Birmingham coalition, who have killed a number of other lions between them. There was speculation that the young male may have been killed.
Thankfully, initial fears were unfounded, and the young male in question (the one with the injury at the base of his tail) was found non the worse for wear in the Manyelethi riverbed two days ago. Tracks of the rest of the pride crossed west out of Londolozi, and the tailed female and four-year-old lioness were seen in the company of the Matimba males near the Londolozi airstrip.
The two females were very hungry, and it is likely that the Matimba males have been monopolising the feeding at any kill that are made. Having big males around, although it offers protection for lionesses and cubs, can actually be a disincentive to hunt. The pair of lionesses was seen later on in the middle of the day hunting Nyala. The sun was at its hottest (temperatures were approaching 40 degrees celsius) but the Tsalala pride are well renowned for hunting during daylight hours, and the fact that the males had been left sleeping meant that the lionesses had a window in which to catch something and feed, without their kill being robbed.
Tracks of the two (tailed lioness and four-year-old) crossed east of our boundary this morning (without the Matimbas), while the Tailless female and three of the sub-adults were west of us. Of the solitary young male there was no sign. He is more than likely doing fine, but is probably too young to survive on his own, so linking up with the pride again will be crucial.
It is interesting to once again see a tailless lioness taking care of a group of four young lions to keep them safe from the threat of intruding males. It is almost a carbon copy of the situation in which the original Tailless lioness raised what are now the four adults in the Mhangeni pride when the Majingilane onslaught began.
As for the young male, his injury does not seem to be in any way debilitating, so is not a worry. The only concern for him is the fact that he is on his own. Whether he will reconnect with the Tsalala pride remains to be seen, but I’m pretty confident he will do son in the next couple of days…
Written and Photographed by James Tyrrell