Just two days ago, Sean Cresswell posted about the re-emergence of a badly injured Matimba male lion. It posed the question; where had this male been and who did he fight with? Although we can only surmise, it really is an interesting exercise to attempt to piece together what happened.
Since then though, there have been further developments in the saga and this time we are sure of the culprits.
On the evening of the 22nd February, the Matimba males were seen quite far west of their territory and roaring with a Mhangeni lioness, in Majingilane territory. This was an incredibly brave (or foolhardy) move, given the fact that one of the males was already injured and had just come out of a fight. The males roared while moving eastwards throughout the evening, and by about 10pm, the Matimba males were calling around the Londolozi camps, in the core of their territory once more. Although the Majingilane give us the impression that they have been prepared to cede their previously held territory around the Londolozi camps, its seems the calls of the Matimba’s in their territory earlier in the evening was just too much to bare. The result: two of the Majingilane coalition came east to seek the newer males out.
The fight must have occurred very late that evening or in the early hours of the morning but what we have been left with is a fairly clear outline of what happened and who came out of it as the victors. On the morning of the 23rd, ranger Don Heyneke and tracker Lucky Shabangu found tracks just north of the Sand River, opposite the Londolozi camps that suggest that is where the big fight happened. Pieces of mane, blood, deep claw gouges in the ground as well as faeces litter the area. We don’t know which of the Matimba males were caught in this fight (possibly both) but when this coalition was found the next morning they were very far apart from one another.
The blonder-maned Matimba male was eventually found in the south east of Londolozi, right on our eastern boundary and certainly not within their established territory. Although he is still carrying the scars of his last fight, it seems he has no new injuries and because he has been able to move that far, it seems his mobility is decent. The wound on his back is leaking quite profusely but these animals are incredibly tough and the fact that he is covering such large distances really is good news for the Matimbas. His current position, knowingly or unknowingly, is relatively close to where the Matshipiri males have been spending a majority of their time and this male would be wise to avoid calling or scent marking in this area.
The darker-maned Matimba male, however, was many kilometers away from his brother on the morning of the 23rd. He was found around the south western portion of Londolozi, lying about 300m from the Majingilane and not looking in a good state. Externally he didn’t seem to be carrying any major wounds from what we could see and he only seemed to have a wound on his paw. However, he was struggling to stand. When rangers saw him in the morning, he rocked and struggled before managing to get to his feet, gingerly walked a few paces before lying down once more. Whether this was from sheer exhaustion, stiffness from the previous evening’s forays or some internal damage, we can’t be sure but this male had certainly found himself in a precarious position. The two Majingilane males were resting up just to his north and looking strong and fit physically. They didn’t seem to have any injuries and rangers and guests were anxious to see what the evening of the 23rd would bring.
Then almost by the book, the Majingilane started to get moving last night once the cover of darkness descended, and they began heading straight in the direction of the unsuspecting dark-maned Matimba male. As the distance between the coalitions lessened, the vehicles switched their lights off, thereby allowing the Matimba male to see the threat coming and so as to not give his position away. The Matimba male saw the two Majingilane brothers first and he leapt up and silently slunk away into the darkness (he was moving easily by this point and it seemed that if there were any injuries, they weren’t severe at all). What happened from here can really only be described as pandemonium. As soon as the two Majingilane smelt him they took off in his direction, the dark-maned Majingilane seeing him first and the male with the scar nose following just behind. The Matimba male disappeared at full speed and from here the Majingilane ran in circles trying to establish where he had gone. The roaring was continuous. The noise must have attracted the attention of the other two Majingilane brothers and they came from the west to join the fray. It was now four Majingilane versus one Matimba.
Knowing full well that he didn’t stand a chance against such a force, the Matimba male desperately tried to elude the four brothers. For the next hour or so he managed to dodge them by looping in ever-widening circles and constantly changing direction whenever he heard them call. After losing sight of him, the Majingilane patrolled the area, sniffing, roaring and scent marking. After about an hour of zig-zagging, it seemed the Matimba male had finally lost his pursuers and he headed silently and swiftly south. He would stop regularly, turn and listen intently to the north to try to establish the position of the threat before turning and moving south again. We eventually left him around the deep south west; an area that him and his brother have been seen in once before but very far from where they are used to spending their days.
As of this morning, all four Majingilane brothers were found back in the west, in the heart of their territory and seemingly unscathed. The two Matimbas were not found and we are sure that they are both hiding out in the south, attempting to find each other, licking their wounds and figuring out their next move. After what is now two battles won for the Majingilane, will the Matimba coalition attempt to face off their opponents again or will they learn from previous mistakes and steer clear? It seems, once again, that we will have to wait and see…