It has been four weeks since 2015 closed off with the epic coalition standoff between the Majingilane-three and Matimba-two. The clash of mighty figures left all wondering what would change – if anything – regarding territories and overall pride movements.
Despite no physical contact taking place that morning, a powerful exchange of information occurred; now each coalition knows more about the other as their overwhelming presence was shared. Famously, Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War that, “If you know the enemy and yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat”. Although the Majingilane coalition has heard the Matimba’s roars for nearly a year already, it may only be now that the two forces have interacted and seen one another that proper sizing up could take place and a further physical confronttation develop. In four weeks, however, no such showdown has come to light.
Last year’s back and forth left the two coalitions utterly exhausted. The distance and frequency of each chase, whether by Majingilane or Matimba males, was somewhat unbelievable and involved hugely impressive feats of physicality. Each coalition ran the other and themselves into the ground and were left utterly breathless. While still vocalising, both coalitions spent a few days retreating slightly, and have since spent their time as follows:
The two Matimba males initially remained close to the Sand River and eventually moved further south into an area less frequented by them in the past few months. Both males tracked down and joined a small portion of the Mhangeni pride, who they had not interacted with often, far from Mhangeni territory. It’s believed that in an effort to protect the sub-adults in the pride, some Mhangeni lionesses led them (the sub-adults) from the area and together fled from the Matimba’s back into the west; an tactical act of experience for such a newly established pride. What followed was some courtship and mating behaviour between the remaining two Mhangeni lionesses and the two Matimba males, however, this could have been a display of false-oestrus in an attempt to distract the males from searching for the rest of the pride. Again, an impressive example of a lioness’ natural instinct to protect her pride.
During this time, the four shared in a huge Buffalo bull which they had pulled down in the dark of night, feeding them for nearly a week. Upon leaving the carcass to the patiently waiting hyenas, vultures and jackals, two of the Tsalala lionesses chased away those two of the Mhangeni pride, and the Matimba’s were left searching again, believing they had a chance to mate. Two nights ago, they seemed to have caught up with one of them on her way back west to her pride, causing her to remain with them again, not wanting to lead them to the rest. There was no sign of the second lioness or the Tsalala pride.
The three Majingilane males, on the other hand, returned into the far western sector very quickly, after spending some time in the north of Singita while the fourth male (who was not present for the 2015 standoff) enjoyed a Kudu carcass all to himself. By mid-January, all four were reunited around Leopard Hills. They spent the next ten days patrolling and bringing down buffalo together while slowly moving through Dulini, Exeter and other properties. Their general direction seems to be slowly back east and it has been a long time since all four have dropped anchor on Londolozi. Their territory is secure to the west and pushing back east may only be a matter of pride (pun intended). Could this be the start of a calculated retaliation?
The already-aged Majingilane coalition has achieved almost unprecedented success in the Sabi Sands since 2010 and last month they showed that even three-strong they are not willing to stand down. But still no blood has been shed; often an necessity in coalition takeovers. May they only be willing to come into contact with the Matimba’s in one, full-strength attack? Sceptics say that both coalitions are past their younger years of fighting and would prefer a shouting bout, but some foresee a premeditated battle for glory.
Either way, the two Matimba males are progressively widening their grasp on central Londolozi and some of its prides. Will the mighty Majingilane males regroup, disperse, hold on to what they have or ultimately solidify their reputation once and for all? Distant thunderstorms are gathering.