With the evidence conclusively pointing towards the Mhangeni Breakaway pride not rejoining with the adult Mhangeni females, the time has come to rename them as their own independent entity.
Traditionally, animals are named according to a feature of the territory they occupy, but since lions traverse such large areas over multiple reserves, we felt we wanted to go for more of a neutral name, and so going forward, we will refer to these lions as the Ntsevu Pride.
“Ntsevu” is a Shangaan word meaning “six”, and denotes the number of lionesses in the pride a the time of their official naming. Although the number of lions in the pride will certainly fluctuate going forward, their territory will most likely also shift in the future, and the name Ntsevu doesn’t limit them to being named after a feature/area just found on Londolozi.
The lionesses continue to spend much time in the company of the two Matshipiri males along the eastern sections of the reserve, although they have been found on central Londolozi a few times over the last few weeks, hunting zebras with some success in the grassland areas. They have been fully independent from the original Mhangeni Pride (themselves a breakaway group) for some time now, and with the birthing of cubs a few months ago, the need for a new name was inevitable. Although the initial litter(s) was unsuccessful (it seems there have been no further sightings of the cubs), the fact that the lionesses have been mating consistently with the Matshipiri coalition means that in all likelihood we should be seeing new litters within the next few months.
The fact that all the females are of similar ages bodes well for the future of the pride; reaching sexual maturity at roughly the same time suggests the possibility of litters being born in short succession, increasing the survival rate of the cubs through alloparenting. Alloparenting involves individuals caring for the offspring of others, not just their own, and it is partly for this reason that it is believed that lions evolved into the social cats that they are.
Going forward, it seems the Matshipiri males are firmly in control of the areas to our east, but with the total abandonment of northern and central Londolozi by the Matimba males, it is anyone’s guess as to what will happen next with the dynamics in those regions.
The Tsalala young males are certainly too young to control territory, and are currently keeping a low-profile in the no-man’s land between the triangle of the Majingilane, Matshipiri and Birmingham coalitions.
With any changes in lion dynamics usually having a knock-on effect, any upheavals in the surrounding areas may well impact the current situation of the newly named Ntsevu Pride.