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James Tyrrell


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 Tsalala Lioness Found Dead

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The picture of her literally skin and bones was heartbreaking. I’m glad she isn’t suffering now and that you and staff have closure.

James it is so sad that she is gone. In the end it is for the best. Such a beautiful area where she came to rest.

Senior Digital Ranger

She sounds a lot like the mother lion we watched a couple times in May 2016 with 2 cubs on a kudu kill near Ximpalapala Koppe. I know the lioness we saw was a member of the Tsalala pride and the father was one of the Matimba males. Link is to a photo from my Facebook album of the trip showing the Matimba males chasing her away from the kill: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10206823301003010&set=a.10206822955954384.1073741834.1290695959&type=3&theater

The Tsalala lioness was a beautiful animal. I am so sorry she died, but she certainly had a long and productive life. And, it is comforting to know she died in ‘her neighborhood’ so to speak. Where there is life, there is death. Rest In Peace. Thanks, James, for sharing the news.

How many subadults of the pride are stile alive?

Hi Gabriele,
Only one but she has been moving around alone, not with the pride…

This is truly sad, the tailless lioness was my favorite lion and I followed her closely on all the blogs. Her courage, stamina and ability to hunt was truly remarkable. However, I am a little confused, twice in the blog there is reference to tailed and tailless lioness; “… recognition between the two old females, but as the old Tailed lioness was clearly no longer a valuable member of the group …” and “…For most of her life she would have done this in company with her sister, the Tailless female, but now, finally, we can confirm that this iconic duo is officially no more.” So, which lioness has passed, the Tailed or the Tailless?

Hi David,

The Tailed female was the one who died. Apologies for any confusion…

This brings tears to my eyes. A Queen in my memory. I hope she went in her sleep, peaceful and not afraid of any pending danger.
Following your blogs and seeing all the wonderful pictures- gives us a sense of being a part of the world over there. We get to know these wonderful animals and we fear for their perils and are happy for the wonderful moments. She definitely has a place in my heart and sadly I bid her farewell. RIP Old Tailed Queen of the pride.

Senior Digital Ranger

Thank you for the final chapter in the life of a well lived lioness. I don’t suppose her sister the Tailless Lioness will be to far behind. Their mother passed on some wonderful genes to her daughters and we can only hope these two icons have passed them along to their progeny. Farewell Tailed Lioness and Thank You!

Hi MJ,
The Tailless female still looks to be in good health, but as we have just seem, the decline can be very rapid once it starts.

Senior Digital Ranger

Was she the mother of the rejected Tsalala youngsters that I saw? May she rest in peace.

Hi Alessandra,
Yes she was.

Digital Ranger

I was just wondering about her the past couple of days. Even though this outcome was expected since your previous post, it still made me cry. What a life though, 15 reigning, productive years..a true icon of an amazing pride. It does help to have a definite conclusion to her story, though. I do hope she “laid her head down, and slipped away…”

Hi vicky,
Agreed, it certainly helps at least knowing her final resting place, rather than always wondering…

Hello James, thanks for the update, we was so sad to hear it, but it was coming, she and her mother, the old tailess, has been our favorites the last 10 years we have been visiting Sabi Sand, mostley at EP, we are keeping fingers crossed that the last girl of Tsalalas survives and have a happy life. Greetings from a cold Finland, Bror and TuijaWest

Hi Bror, thanks for your comments.

The Tailless female is still roaming the reserve somewhere, and there is still hope in the form of the 4-year old lioness. Let’s hope you can still see some Tsalala lions on your next visit!

Sad to hear of another loss to the Tsalala pride. They are now only two adult members; Tailless female and young four year old daughter of the Majingilane is that right?
Did the Londolozi rangers bury her body or capture any photographs of it?

Hi Abbaas,
There was very little left to bury or capture photos of unfortunately.
The current make up of the pride is tailless lioness, 4-year old Majingilane daughter and one cub of the Tailless female. There is also a sub-adult female wandering the reserve from the two 2016 litters. Interesting times ahead…

And so the circle of life has come to an end for the Tailed Tsala lioness. Whilst it’s with a heavy heart that I tap out this response to your post, I truly understand how nature works and am relieved that there will be no future photos of her emaciated body. I hold on to the belief that she meandered off into her favorite shady spot, tucked into the vegetation, and peacefully went to sleep. May her spirit live on in the hearts of all who witnessed her beauty, her motherhood and subtle power.

Hi Denise,
Thanks for your kind words.
I’m holding on to the same belief that she just went peacefully to sleep as well…

James, How sad… We have hundreds of images of her from our visits over the years and will do our best to remember all the amazing sightings we had of her. She lead a full and fruitful (think of all her cubs!) life and gave so much joy to all who have had the pleasure of knowing her!

Just off the top of my head I can think of at least five sightings of her we’ve had together! She will be missed!

So heartbreaking to hear this beautiful lady is gone, but good that she isn’t suffering any longer and that her final resting place was on Londolozi in one of her favourite places that she loved to roam. Her legacy will live on.

Hi Jill.
Indeed, and with the 4 year old lioness having been mating with the Birmingham males, maybe we’ll be seeing another Tsalala litter soon…?

May the Tsalala Lioness rest in peace.

Warm regards to the Trackers, the Guides and everyone else,

Gerry Burdzik.

Hi Gerry,
Thanks for your wishes. Our warm regards back to you!

Glad she is at rest, and still sad at her passing. Until we meet again, beauty.

I was heartbroken to read this news! I am glad she is no longer suffering, but I was SO touched by this beautiful and formidable lion. I will miss seeing her. To me she was so much of Londolozi. 🙁

Hi Sam,
Thanks for your comments. You must have seen her on almost every visit! We were trying to calculate how many photos have been taken of her over the years and we put it well into the hundreds of thousands, perhaps more!

Thank you for your beautiful words about this wonderful old lioness, I can imagine the space she leaves behind for all who knew her. Seeing the image of her close to the end brought tears to my eyes I have to say although I know it is the cycle of nature and respect that it was still heart wrenching. I admit to waiting to hear more about her knowing also that it would be to say she had gone.

HI Cynthia,
Indeed, the same thing has been happening for thousands of years, and it is the cycle of nature, as with anywhere else. It’s still very sad, nevertheless.

Senior Digital Ranger

Oh what a tragic picture this is on the top of your blog 🙁 RIP beautiful Lioness you were amazing & will be remembered by many! Thanks James for the update

Digital Ranger

They are together with her mother, Original Tailless lioness R.I.P. ♥
Are there any information about a Tsalala cub?

Hi Iren,
Last we saw it was with the Tailless female, but they haven’t been seen for a couple of days.

Digital Ranger

Thank you for the info , James. ♥

Hello again James, when i read replys of your guests specially David Finkles comments, i did get really confused because i thought that IT WAS the tailessed female who died, and now i found out that it was the sister, of course it is very sad that too, but our memorys of the old tailess and ( what we called her) the young tailess, is so great, and the photos we have, nice. But can you confirm the reason of the lost of the tails. Wehave been told that it was hyenas who have bite them of. ??

Hi Bror,
Yes it was hyenas that bit off both lionesses’ tails, in separate incidents about 5 years apart.
Apologies for any confusion, it was the TAILED lioness that passed away. The Tailless female is still alive and healthy, although we have not seen her for a couple of days.
Best regards

I was very sad when I saw this. It really is the end of an era.

We met the two lioness and their cubs twice during our week with you Feb 2014. By 7am Feb 8 we followed the family to the Sand River where the two lionesses surveyed the crossing before letting the cubs start their crossing. After 15 minutes they all crossed the river but not until one of the cubs sneaked up and pushed their sibling in to the water. The video and pictures are a wonderful reminder of the beauty to be seen at the Londolozi Reserve.

Digital Ranger

Its sad such extraordinary lioness just left a skull…… When the condition is really bad! why not put her to sleep and burn the body, better to be eat by vultures or hyenas……

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