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James Tyrrell

Photographic Guide/Media Team

James had hardly touched a camera when he came to Londolozi, but his writing skills that complemented his Honours degree in Zoology meant that he was quickly snapped up by the Londolozi blog team. An environment rich in photographers helped him develop the ...

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on Matimba Males Chase Mhangeni Breakaways

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Nicolas Eske
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The Mhangeni have been chased by Matshapiri a few times. So they were in this state of mind. They either failed to recognize the Matimba Males. Or sometime before this,, they before they might have been approached by Matshapiri males and they were still alert. The Matimbas must have scared away Matshapiri and then trailed the females. And when the females saw the Matimba males, they thought they might be Matshapiri.

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Could be. There can be a lot of confusion amongst lions; we saw a few years ago how an apparent case of mistaken identity ended up in one of the Tsalala cubs getting killed by one of the Majingilane: http://blog.londolozi.com/2011/12/tsalala-lion-cub-killed-by-majingilane-male-lions/

It’s pretty hard to tell what’s going on their minds…

Roberto
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They must have been chased by a another coalition before this.

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

It’s always possible since the Matshipiri males were vocalising from not too far away, and their tracks had crossed onto Londolozi the night before…

GM Majingilane
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First of all its always a delight to see awesome Matimba males thanks for this piece.Could it be because the females fear the males now that they mated with the Mhatshipri as well that the males could get aggressive with them because the males wont tolerate the females mating with other males so the males hit one of them now the females are avoiding them just family problems all should be back to normal .What do you think James

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

It’s certainly possible. There was a lioness mating with the Matshipiri males yesterday which we were pretty sure was one of the Mhangeni Breakaways…

Lea
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A good account James. It is a tough life for all animals in the bush – especially if you are prey. The lion dynamics are like reading a thriller novel. Thanks for the article and I pray the cubbies will be safe, along with the ladies of the pride.

GM Majingilane
Member
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have things calmed down now

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

They have.
The pride is currently a long way from the Matimba males, right in the central parts of Londolozi.

Patrik Hutter
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Hi James,
Thank you for this new blog and hello to Londolozi!
It has been fascinating to follow the Mangheni-breakaways since they left their natal pride. Maybe there is a difference between research/text book and reality in the field. Females officially get mature at age 3 years, and between first oestrus and when the may have cubs, 6-12 months can pass. In Sabi Sands, I have seen that rarely (almost never). Othawa-females got cubs at around 4.5 years old, the Mangheni-females themselves also at around 4.5 years old. The Tsalala-female fathered by Majingilanes (born early 2011) even at more than 5 years old. It seems that 1-2 females of the Nkuhuma-females in the north were below 4 years when giving birth. I was really surprised that 2 females of the Mangheni-breakaways are already denning at roughly 3.5 years old. But it’s great anyway!
There was a video from your neighbours in the east (about 2 weeks ago), when 1 female of the Mangheni-female was caught in between chasing between Matimbas and Matshapiris, seems she played it smart, but some females have been mating with the Matshapiris too. I’m not sure whether they have established their territory 100%, it seems it overlaps with Sparta-pride and Tsalalas. As far as I understood they spend most of their time in central/eastern Taylor and to the east of that on the other side of the Sand river. It will be interesting to see where exactly theiy define their territory once they are fully mature and confident. For sure they will be a real force, being 3 strong. Hopefully, no female will be victim of any coalition fighting for them. The close presence of Matimbas and Matshapiris, and maybe even the Birminghams, should make them cautious, and their recent behavior described above maybe a sign for that.

Patrik Hutter
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Sorry I meant that they are 6 strong (not 3) 🙂

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Hi Patrick, thanks for the comments.
At present there is no real certainty about Mhangeni Breakaways territory; they’ve been spending a lot of time in Mala Mala, but prior to that they were on our side for quite awhile. Since at least one of the lionesses recently gave birth (in MM) it may be that they will look to remain there, but with the Sparta Pride staying further south and the adult Mhangeni females staying further west, central Londolozi currently has no resident pride, so they may well establish a large territory.

Jill Larone
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Very interesting James! Were you able to find the cubs that are being denned, and if so, are they all safe? Do you think the Matimba males don’t recognize their own cubs and have threatened them and the females are trying to draw them away from the den site? Maybe the female was injured trying to protect the cubs? They clearly look very stressed and afraid in your pictures. These poor Lionesses are really having a rough time…I feel so bad for them. Will the two injured Lionesses survive their injuries, do you think?

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Hi Jill.
Their injuries didn’t seem to severe, and there is a lot of food around at the moment, so if nothing further occurs, it is likely they will make a full recovery.
As far as I’m aware, the cubs are being denned on a koppie in Mala Mala, but are still very small, and are not being viewed on a regular basis yet.

Gerard Gaynor
Member
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Maybe with so much interaction with different prides, things adding up to leave the lionesses’ nervous

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Very possible Gerard. The eastern sections of our reserve towards thE Sand River have seen a lot of lion activity of late.

bingo
Member
Guest

Wow

Jenny
Member
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An intriguing and bewildering story. I can’t offer any plausible reason for the Matimba males’ behaviour except to say that domestic violence appears to be everywhere including the animal kingdom. A really interesting story. Thank you James.

Roberto
Member
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Thanks james. Mhangeni are a nomadic nature pride with 6 members. Difficult for two old Males to hold it on. With Matshapiri currently make incursion who are definitely now streetwise and much faster, agile males. Can easily hunt down the two Matimba Males. The things would soon go out of old males hands.

Tim Musumba
Member
Guest

What is interesting here is wouldn’t the Mhangeni breakaway recognize their own Male Lions?!Why would they run away and supposedly mistake them for other Male Lion’s including the Matshapiris who are so different in image from the Matimbas especially Hairy Belly?!It could be because one Breakwaway Lioness was found mating with the Matshapiris which in turn has made the Matimbas more cautious against another repeat of Matshapiris mating with their lionesses!

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

It may well be, Tim.
There could be a clash imminent between the Matimba and Matshipiri males.

Dave Strege
Member
Guest

Is this the same time as when you hosted golfer Rory McIlroy, who tweeted video of the lion roaring? Looks like the same habitat, surroundings; and it looks like you in the video. Can you tell us anything more about that encounter? And everybody’s reactions?

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Hi Dave, yes it was the same sighting.
A very exciting thing to witness, with lions running everywhere! We couldn’t make complete sense of it, but it was pretty thrilling!

Bader
Member
Guest

Since the Mangheni 6 are mating with 2 different coalitions and two of them already have cubs, could we see a split between them?

James Tyrrell
Photographic Guide/Media Team

Hi Bader,
I’m always hesitant to make predictions about what will happen in the lion dynamics because there are so many variables at play, and it could literally go in any direction!

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