I started working on a map to show the various areas in which the different prides of Londolozi and its surrounds have been operating, but gave up very quickly as there has been significant overlap in each respective pride’s area of operation. Ok maybe not as much as all that, but things have changed so much over the last year that I feel to put out a map would be to attempt to assign some sort of permanence to each prides’ movements, and as we’ve seen, this has been far from the case.
The Sparta pride continue to be conspicuous by their absence. Although it was initially the drought that saw them spending so much time hunting along the Sand River to the east of our boundary, the movement into the area of the six-strong Mhangeni Breakaway pride has most likely seen the Sparta females lose their hold on the central and southern areas of Londolozi. Although putting in an appearance every few weeks, there has been no consistency in the viewing of these lions. The situation may change at any time, but it is sad in some ways that we don’t encounter them as often as we used to, as this pride has been viewed for over 40 years on the reserve.
The Mhangeni Breakaway pride are denning their first litters to the east of Londolozi, but with the cubs barely a few weeks old, it will most likely be a while before the lionesses bring them onto Londolozi. The pride currently consists of six lionesses, the three young males having split off a few months back. They make regular forays onto Londolozi soil, and with the birth of their cubs are more than likely going to be taking up more permanent residence around the Sand River along our eastern borders where they are currently spending most of their time.
The original Mhangeni pride put in occasional appearances around our western areas; particularly around Ximpalapala koppie and down to the Sand River, where they have still been hunting buffalo with a startling frequency. The Majingilane males are often with them.
The Tsalala pride continue to be the mainstay of our lion viewing, with the two adult lionesses and their five cubs moving between the Sand and Manyelethi rivers, spending a lot of time around the Londolozi camps. Although they used to be in company with the Matimba males fairly often, this coalition has been spending less and less time with the Tsalala females; maybe pushed east by the increased presence of the Majingilane, or maybe they have simply been spending more and more of their time with the Mhangeni Breakaway females.
The Tsalala breakaway pride are the final piece in the puzzle, and continue to pose questions as to what will happen in the near future. Will the tailless female and young lioness rejoin the rest of the Tsalala pride or will they remain split? How soon will the young males go off on their own? Surely their departure is imminent?
2016 saw some big changes in the lion dynamics of Londolozi, and 2017 is likely to prove no different; with two ageing coalitions holding the fort and a host of young cubs in the area, anything could happen…