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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 Another Majingilane at Death’s Door

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So sad. We viewed the four Magimgilane several times over the years at Londolozi. It is difficult to accept that we will not see them or read any more stories about them. It is as if they came back to Londolozi to spend their last hours there.

Senior Digital Ranger

The end of an era that has given those of us who followed these once mighty Kings, a pleasure that few are given.. To me they have been one of the most impressive coalitions in recent memory.. They used intelligence and cunning to hold on for almost 8 yrs. I will miss these old warriors, but an so very glad we got to share in a part of their journey.. I find it amazing how (especially) the male lion & leopard go from fit and glorious to old and fading away in such a short period of time. Nature has it way with all living things.. Thank you James for bringing us these Majingilane updates.

I have just watched the video posted on the blog of 16 January 2012. Goosebumps. It is the cycle of life but still so sad.

Digital Ranger

Hi James,
This is incredible and hard to believe news!! since it is coming first hand from a top ranger i have to accept but, have no words to express Dark mane condition and his inevitable demise. I hope the end happens soon in his sleep rather than savage attack from Hyenas. I think these lions get sort of premonition that their death is coming and take these steps of getting separated and go on their own ways, otherwise it is difficult to explain the things that are happening with Magingilanes…..correct me if i am wrong? The sudden turn in events of these legendary lions is something difficult to comprehend.
Thanks again for looking out for Dark mane and updating us that is much appreciated.

Hi Vaseem, thanks for the comments. We will see if we can find him over the next few days but he may already be gone…

So it has been confirmed that Golden Mane has passed as well? It is extremely difficult to see them in such a state. It will be so hard to imagine the bush without the mighty Majingilane. When we return in October I hope to head out to the far western reaches of the reserve, and just sit in the sounds of the bush, and remember all good times and long hours we spent with this amazing coalition.

So golden mane is definitely dead?
So strange how quickly their fortunes changed
How long have the males been without a pride?

Joel I can’t confirm 100% but all reports seem to indicate that he is dead.
The Males have officially been with the Mhangeni pride for the last while, so I think them without a pride is only a recent development.

Like others, seeing the decline in a very short period of time is seems surreal. There is a sadness in seeing a wonderfully vibrate and healthy creature become emaciated and weak. I can’t imagine the sadness you, James, and others at Londolozi must feel watching your wild friends disappear from your daily life on the reserve. My sympathy extends to these creatures and to each of you at Londolozi whose life they touched. Were I there I’d give each of you an encouraging hug. So many recent deaths.

Hi Joanne,
Thanks for the comments.
I think the sadness is more for the older rangers who were here in the Majingilane heyday. They haven’t really been a feature on Londolozi for the last 3 years so a lot of the newer rangers aren’t as familiar with them.
Still sad to see though

How far from each other are the locations the two were last sighted?

and what is the status of cubs with the Mhangeni females? Will be interesting to see what happens now!

Lachlan they don’t have cubs as far as we know. The sub-adults seem to have been pushed into independence, but neither Mhangeni nor Ntsevu prides have cubs right now. With all the mating that’s been going on with the Birmingham males though we’re assuming it won’t be long.

Thanks for the info James. And thanks to you and the team for the long list of great posts on these Lions that have kept me engaged for years. Its a shame I didn’t get to see them in person but I plan to make it there sometime so perhaps it will be the Birmingham Boys that are the coalition for me to see.

Probably about 8 km.

Senior Digital Ranger

Unbelievable. It went so fast. Many of us will miss them, they have been around for so long

Hi Alessandro.
Almost doesn’t seem real that they are about to go…

My Son and I visited Londolozi for the first time in October 2017 and he and I were lucky to have Melvin and Milton all to ourselves for four days where we observed these lions close up. Their beauty and majesty will not be forgotten. We were moved by life in the Bush in so many wonderful ways and our trip is forever etched in our memories. Incredible place with great people. We will be back to visit, hopefully in 2019. Thanks again Londolozi

James, I can’t imagine how are you feeling now about this. I am far, here in Brazil, and I am sad to see this once strong male in this poor condition, it must be hard for you that lives for this. I follow a lot the dynamics about Sabi Sand, almost everyday, looking for info and status about the coalitions, Sabi Sand it’s a place that I plan to go next year and I am already sad that the chance that I have to see the Majingis it’s as good as zero. Thank you for the update about these lions that we all love.

Your two articles on the demise of the Majingilane males are exceptional – thank you. Respect and emotion for magnificent lions. If they could read, I believe that they too would thank you.

Hi Ian,
Thanks for the comments.
We’ll be searching the areas for the next while in the hope of finding either male, but if there’s no sign of them in the next few weeks, we’ll probably have to assume that both have passed, and we can write a full tribute.
Best regards,

Hi James, and greetings to Londolozi!
It is not easy to see the Majingilanes in that bad condition.
We hope that they can hold on to life for some more time.
As a visitor, I will remember the words of ranger Rich Ferrier on a evening game drive forever: “Four bad cowboys riding into the sunset.” Now they are in the sunset of their lives.
Now there is just one comment or wish: everyone knows about their takeover over the Mapogos.
Well the Majingilanes have done a proper 2nd takeover, over the Selati males in the western sector.
In my opinion, that is their major achievement! I cannot remember a coalition doing that. The western sector was in uproar for 4-6 weeks, fights here and there. At the end, one Selati male paid with his life, and the other 2 males fleed to Manyeleti. Without them taking the western sector, there would not be any Ntsevu lionesses, nor Mhangeni subadults.

Hi Patrick,
All true. Haha I can imagine Rich making a comment like that!
The irony is that in the Mhangeni females (and therefore Ntsevu females as well), there are Mapogo genes. So you are essentially looking at a fusion of the best of the Mapogo and Majingilane. Quite some legacy both coalitions have established.

Hi James, I have a question, who are the ones who will carry on the genes of the Majingis? The Otawa male? What happened to the mangheni males, sons of the majingis, grandsons of mapogos?

Thiago the Mhangeni males have dispersed somewhere, most likely into the Kruger Park, as there were bigger more dominant males around when they moved out on their own.
Tha Majingilane genes will be carried on through the Ntsevu lioness and all their offspring, the Styx males if they are still around, the younger Tsalala lioness, and if the current sub-adult Mhangeni females survive and forma pride of their own, through them and their offspring too. There are probably others in the Western sector who I don’t know about, but it seems like their legacy is set…

Those photos are some of the most heart-wrenching I’ve ever looked at. It’s really hard to read about this, this once formidable band of lions that were unstoppable for 8 years has now within the space of 2 months gone from kings maintaining their domain to two remaining brothers seperated and both in very bad condition (I’ve seen photos of lions in the Kalahari that were in better shape than they are currently). I want to believe they can hold on but I can see now that they don’t have long.

It really is the end for the Majingilane (feels really wrong to say that). But their dynasty still lives on and hopefully their sons or grandsons will become future kings in the Sabi Sands.

What an amazing coalition of males. Upon hearing the sad news of their condition, I viewed the many Youtube videos of these wonderful males. Linking in to other videos was a clip of the Birmingham males consorting with daughters of the Majingilanes. What fantastic genetics those cubs will have……..

Hi Ben,
Indeed. If the Birmingham’s can stay in power for a while we should be seeing some impressive genes come through.
Best Regards

what goes around comes around…long live the Mapogos

Not an accurate statement, as it implies the Maginfilane were overcome by another coalition. But unlike the Mapogo, no coalition topped the majingilane. Only Father Time. #justthefactsmac

Is the update today on lion dynamics?

Just terrible to read this. Who are the Majingilanes descendents? Perhaps with time they will form a coalition like their father. And – this is slightly off topic, but do we know if the Mapogos have any descents in/around Sabi?

Hi Malavika,
Both coalitions have descendants thankfully. The Mhangeni lionesses were sired by the Mapogo, and they have been very successful so far, birthing the Ntsevu pride (6 females, sired in turn by the Majingilane) and now having 12 of their latest offspring recently become independent (I know 11 of them have been seen together, the 12th possibly unaccounted for for now).
Should these groups all reproduce successfully, the legacy of both the Mapogo and Majingilane will be more than secured.

Digital Ranger

Ahhh, you made me cry even more than on the previous Majingilane post. Like you, I can’t imagine them no longer being around. I do hope you get that final good-bye siting. I would want the same. Say a farewell for us that won’t have that privilege.

Beautifully written, this truly is the end of an Era, my condolences to all who have loved being with, seeing and following these magnificent lions. Thank you for letting us know.

Wow James, it seems you have become the resident thespian of reporting the demise of favorite leopards and lions. In saying that, I commend you on your sensitive words describing either the passing of a well known leopard or lion as well as documenting the final days of the Majingilane final two. I’m not even there and feel the sadness and concern of all of you. A question- is it possible that this group spent some time within the Singita Sabi Sands concession. If my memory hasn’t failed me, it seems I’ve wstched these boys in the past.

I’m waiting with baited breath for the outcome of all of this , knowing there will be no miracles, but again hoping Dark Mane and Scar Nose will find a secluded place to take their last breaths, true warriors of their time. Thanks for your updates.

Hi Denise,
Thanks for the kind words.
In answer to your question, yes, they spent quite a bit of time on the Singita concession, especially since their shift into the western side of the Sabi Sands. Singita would have seen them a lot more than we would have during their last few years.

Hello James. A great loss for the Londolozi bush but my thoughts go to you first. I know it is a very hard time for you… Jacqueline.

Hi Jacqueline,
Thank you very much.
It is hard to watch but that is simply the reality of the natural world.
Looking forward to having you and Yves back next month!
Best regards!

Hello James. A great loss for the Londolozi bush but my thoughts go to you first… I know you are going through a very hard time. Jacqueline

I can picture you driving around looking for him…I’d be doing the same, just to say goodbye. You and the others have said it all…so sad…

It’s so heartbreaking to see these beautiful boys in such terrible condition. I cried when I read this and saw the photos, seeing how emaciated they are. This once strong, majestic coalition coming to the end of their lives. My heart goes out to you James, and everyone at Londolozi, knowing how you must all be grieving for these legendary boys. Still, I am glad that they weren’t killed in battle with another coalition and that they will die on Londolozi, where they reigned for many years. I hope you are able to find them one last time, James, to say good bye and find closure and I will silently thank them for the wonderful memories I have, spent watching them patrol one beautiful morning in 2013…they will never be forgotten.

Very sad reading …and so sad to see their demise its a shame their not collared so maybe you could get closure I think it would be worth doing in the future so their story has a start and an end ..
I hope you’s find the two of these loved males.

Thanks for the updates James.
Its interesting that the Majingilane have lost so much condition in such a short space of time. but what i find even more puzzling that both majingilane that were seen seem to be in equally bad state as eachother, only a couple of months ago they were all looking pretty impressive for their age. Could it be possible that their swift and collective demise could have been a result of feeding off a diseased animal recently?

Hi Abbaas,
Lions have incredibly strong immune systems.
I know a lot of lions do carry TB, usually contracted by feeding on diseased buffalo, and when old age kicks in and they aren’t getting a steady source of food, it can finish them off more quickly, so this may have something to do with it.
I think the age thing is probably the biggest factor but it’s ultimately a combination.

Digital Ranger

What pride has taken over? The Avocas or the Nkuhumas.

Niether Gemma, it’s the Birmingham males, although they haven’t properly taken over yet. The old Majingilane territory is effectively still up for grabs.

Senior Digital Ranger

Oh two Majingi posts in 2 days & this guy looks a lot worse than his brother! Thanks James for the update, but it is sad day for us all to know that there won’t be any more posts on them!!

James, A sad story for sure. We are amazed the coalition has collapsed so quickly. We are wondering how long they can hang on without a kill, or someone’s leftovers? Why don’t they reconnect with one of the prides that they managed?

Hi Michael,
I know they were following the Mhangeni sub-adults for awhile, but I think age has just gotten hold of them and they are too weak to keep up with the pride anymore.
They may well find old kills and survive a little longer but I think that would simply be delaying the inevitable…

Hi James – sorry for the deluge of questions, but I’ve been wondering if it’s common for members of a coalition to go within days/weeks of one another, as the Majingilanes have? Truly a heart rending post.

It’s a good question Malavika.
I think in this case it’s just coincidence, although being old (and we presume around the same age) it was unlikely that one would outlast any of the others by too long, as they would be subject to the same type of environmental pressures.

Very hard to look at but death is an inevitable part of life isn’t it. Somehow it’s more difficult when those creatures have been such an indomitable force as these magnificent lions have been. Probably exhausted with the effort of life itself defending patrolling fighting that must take it’s toll in such a dramatic and short time frame. Thank you for the wonderful video to remind us all just how impressive their presence has been.

Senior Digital Ranger

Today 8 Apr 2018 Dark Mane was seen on the MMM road in Djuma.. He is looking absolutely emaciated. They said he was following the Nkuhuma Pride to scavenge a meal. The Nkuhumas moved on and DM is now ambling down the road, alone. I don’t think he will be among the living much longer.

Hi MJ, Thanks for the update!!

An update: I don’t see any recent comments so thought I’d pass it along from a #safariLIVE viewer. The Dark Mane male lion was seen 08/03/2018 (Sunday) on the southern boundary road for Djuma Private Game Reserve during the sunset drive. He traveled into the northern section of Arathusa by sunrise drive (Monday AM) #safariLIVE does have a recording of his sighting.

Thanks for the update James,
Is it possible that there could have been a conflict between the Majingilane and Birmingham coaltions and that is what lead to the disappearance of the Three Toothed Majingilane and the swift deterioration of the remaining two?

I don’t think there was any conflict between the two coalitions; they haven’t been near each other as far as we know.
I think it’s simply a matter of old age catching up.
The third one was apparently gored by a buffalo but that report is unconfirmed.

Thanks for the update!

I wonder if they had contracted an illness sense it seemed to happen so fast to all of them. Your so right about the lack of closure. The not knowing is just the worst. I would have done the same thing James. A respectful private goodbye would help somewhat.

Hi Judy,
A number of lions in the Greater Kruger Park carry TB, that for the most part they contract from buffalo. It doesn’t affect them generally until they lose condition through other means, but this may well be a case of these males being caught up by old age, not getting enough food, and the TB starting to kick in.

James Tyrrell, so glad you caught my mistake. So sorry I gave the wrong date. The correct date is April 8 2018.
“An update: I don’t see any recent comments so thought I’d pass it along from a #safariLIVE viewer. The Dark Mane male lion was seen 08/03/2018 (Sunday) on the southern boundary road for Djuma Private Game Reserve during the sunset drive. He traveled into the northern section of Arathusa by sunrise drive (Monday AM) #safariLIVE does have a recording of his sighting.”

Thanks Morning Glory.
We had him on Londolozi last night but no sign of this this morning.

Thank you for sharing this information. I have a question… Why nobody put the lions a GPS, so this way you can study them in a better way, and having much more information?. Today, the technology is very adavanced, so the GPS are small and dont interfere in the lions behaviour. Its very sad not be able to know where are dark mane and scare nose now. If they are dead or not. How they died… We are talking about the most famous lions in the World, probably. We have the tecnology to know without interfere, but we dont use it. Why? Im still wondering me what happens with Rasta Mapogo, for example,that night in july 9, 2010 at The Elephants Planes. Its hard to understand.. Thank you very much in advance…

Hi Diego,
The policy is to leave the animals in as natural state as possible.
Also we rely heavily on the skills and experience of local Shangaan trackers to find the animals, and a good track-and-find adds immeasurably to the guest experience.
I don’t think we will ever have a situation in the Sabi Sand in which we radio chip lions or leopards. At least I hope we don’t.
Thanks for the comments.

Digital Ranger

RIP ……

That’s messed up watching the Majingalanee Males suffer. I heard the females left them. Park rangers should’ve stepped in and gave them some food. I heard heard the cubs needed food too. Thats tragic not to care for the lions. Its soo heartbreaking to not do nothing. Theres so much knowledge on lion behavior now n u can see in plain site that they need help sometimes. They needed to be rehabilitated then released or given some food till they got healthy. Not all lions r raging. They have kind personalities n trying to survive. Its not about survival of the fittest, which has proven to be an ugly way to look at life. All life needs help, n lions have ahard life as it is… Its a shame they starved to death… Tourist money should be helping them to stay healthy n alive. Their starvation was preventable.. Its a shame to see that happen.

Hi Lether WTF.
Intersting name.
It is indeed sad, but feeding them would simply prolong their suffering for a few more weeks at best. The reality one needs to accept is that lions do not live forever.

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