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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: Acting Like a Leopard

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She has survived against all odds so far. We sometimes question their decicions, but I am sure she has got a reason. I am sure her and the cubs will be fine. But as you say what ever happen, happens. Waiting for more updates.

Senior Digital Ranger

like the lions in lake manyara

Master Tracker

Oh wow, what a sight, what a story. Thank you.

Well written James. I read this with interest as well as curiosity. Since the Tsalala female had successfully given birth in the familiar koppie, protecting her three cubs within the narrow crevices, would she have moved them in order to find better and more prolific prey? As I recall, the Sand River is a popular place for not only finding a source of water, but also a convenient highway for leopards and lions, especially during the dry season. During my last trip we spent time in the sandy riverbed, watching a three weeks old cubs playing alongside their exhausted mother, a Mhagene female. I worried they were too exposed….

This lioness is strong and intuitive and so as you state, we’ll just have to wait and see, and make a few prayers to the lion god of protection.

Was this lioness once part of the pride that „Tailless“ was?

Hi Cindy,
Yes, the original tailless female was her grandmother and the second one was her aunt.

We are delighted this lonely lioness has her 3 small cubs to keep her company, although it does lay a burden of responsibility on her food wise. She is a courageous Mom and we pray she continues to successfully provide food for the babies and for herself. She is doing amazingly well……… Wendy M

James – she certainly is acting like leopard. I have never seen a lion climb a tree, but I know are capable of climbing trees.

Hmmm. Here’s an interesting project for somebody with the time and resources to undertake it. Hypothesis:- are animals generally adapting their behaviour to be more elastic, to give them more options as elements of their world becone more constrained – as we are adapting ourselves to a changing world? For example, dogs and cats seem to be interacting with their humans at a far deeper, more intuitive level. Cat’s – more cats – are starting to be born with ‘abnormal’ thumbs. Wild animals are starting to interact spontaneously with humans – positively. Are the IQ’s of some animals increasing in tune with our own increasing leaps into the scientific, philosophical and generally intellectual unknown? Is there indeed, a sort of inter-species ‘hundredth monkey syndrome’. Look at Youtube videos and see what is happening between animals and humans and between animals and animals. This might be a fascinating field of study for somebody with an open enough mind to undertake it…

Wow, those photos of her in the tree are awesome! I have to agree with you on the relocation of the cubs. They seemed to be safer in the koppies! Maybe she is aware of something that we are not? It has to be very tough for a lioness by herself.

James, was just thinking in addition to her hunting habits mirroring that of a leopard, could her cub-raising also do so, in that she hides them while she goes hunting and then fetches them to bring them to kills or brings kills to them (something I know leopardesses don’t normally do, but given she is an apex predator, maybe she could afford to)? To me that would be more effective than bringing her cubs to kills where they could be caugh unawares by other lions or hyenas?

Interesting question Michael.
They’re probably a little small to be taken to kills yet but they’re almost there, so the next few weeks will probably tell us…

Am looking forward to seeing how she goes about raising them. Fingers crossed/thumbs held!

Thumbs, fingers and toes crossed that this girl makes it and by doing so has a family again! Great article!

Great write up James. Such rich and wonderful history has come from the Tsalalas from over the many years. Sure hope she can keep it going.

Senior Digital Ranger

Cool that she climbs trees

Senior Digital Ranger

Very intersting read. She sure is one remarkable lady.

Just goes to show how resourceful lions can be. I assume that she would also be hunting smaller prey like warthog and impala, although she could still take wildebeest and kudu.

Hi James, I read about the Tailles lioness who died early 2018. She also belonged to Tsalala. I wonder what wounds she had on her body and why she was not treated and what caused her death. And she was famous along with her sister.

Oh boy, no small challenges for her! Love seeing the shots of her up in a tree!

My very first memory of her was in a tree on a stormy day, she was feeding of a carcass in the Mxabene, I had only been at Londolozi for a couple of days.

Long live the queen!


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