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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 Birmingham Male Lion Dies

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Which male was it? I remember all 5 while watching Wild Earth Safari Live as they crossed back and forth from Djuma to Londolozi.. They were mighty impressive.

It was Nsuku who died.

James, so sorry to hear about Birmingham Male Lion has died, but I guess it was inevitable with his injury.

We were fortunate to see him on a neighboring reserve last summer. He was magnificent!We nicknamed him Warrior, so appropriate in so many ways, roaring until the end. Somehow I feel as though I have lost a very special touchstone to Africa. May he truly roam the skies!

Sad to see him go, but I’m glad he is no longer in pain. Poor guy. I am very grateful to have seen him sunning himself in the sand w his family last year.

I saw this guy on my visit last September, and indeed I’m surprised he made it this long. He’s roaring on the long way now…

am not sure but I think I have watched a documentary claiming that nomad male lions could tell from a territorial male lion’s roar if the lion was healthy or not. I think that the same was said about the scent marking as well. in other words, that a lion is able to tell the age, the health status and other things from the scent that another lion has marked. if that is the case, so maybe the injured lion roaring could have made the things worse for the remaining two lions in the coalition. I mean if nomad lions had heard his roar and had been able to pick up his injury this could have been worse than they hadn’t heard a third roar at all.

Interesting, Maria.
I’m almost 100% sure that lions can read far more into each other’s calls than we realise, so I’m sure there’s something to be said for that…

I will answer you here. I don’t know why I can’t do it in your last comment.
“Hi Aristotels,
Has this been scientifically proven?”

I do not know. But scientists are not the last voice when it comes to lions. They have always said that the roars of a lion can be heard eight kilometers away, but the reality is that they are heard far beyond (over 10).

Craig Packer said that a tiger would beat a lion after spending its entire life studying lions. Obviously, he didn’t even know the true power of a lion. He also stated that the manes do not offer protection to the lion in case of fight.

I agree with the roaring thing. I’ve heard lions at easily 10km on a still winter’s night (we knew exactly where the lion was at the time).
And the mane, whilst probably oppering some superficial protection, is far more for display and intimidation than protection. it might offer protection on the immediate neck area, but a lot of lion fights involve swatting around the face and head rather than the neck, and going for the rump and flanks where there is no protection.

I will answer you in a wrong comment again.

And it seems little to you? If the mane prevents your rivals from trying to bite your neck, you already have a lot taken.

The mane offers very good protection. Yes, it is only a lot of hair, but it prevents the rival from getting a good grip and the canines through the skin. If lions didn’t have mane, don’t doubt they’d search the neck quite frequently in their fights. As the rest of felines do. Lions are professional fighters, they have no rivals among big predators (except for very large bears).

Watch Dongo (Notch’s grandson) as he handles a young lion who is reluctant to leave his territory. The quick elusive movements of his head and mane offer him full protection against the rival’s claws. No other feline is capable of doing that. That is why lions often beat tigers when they fight each other. Lions use the mane as a shock absorber as they tire their rival and demoralize him.

Hi James:

I just hope you didn’t think I’m a lionfan. What I told you the other day is proven. I have a list with more than 60 experts who favor the lion in a fight against the tiger. But I don’t want to bore you with it (it’s too extensive), but I’ll leave you a qualified opinion. Then think what you want.

Dr. Eric Kessler favored the lion. He works with the Bigcat Institute in South Africa. A zoologist with more than 24 years in the field experience has said:

“Almost everyone in charge of zoos today seems to agree that the lion will win in a fight with a tiger, but, the lion will certainly not have it easy in all areas. Most people assume that the tiger is a little bigger, and perhaps this makes them think that the tiger would win in a fight with a lion, but during the investigation of intense conservation in bigcats (since about 1980) some were made Important changes to this idea. Lions are very intelligent fighters, all their attack is planned. The key to the lion’s fight is that it manages its energy, allowing elements of deception and sudden turns of great savagery. They are very common attributes in the lion. Recent studies suggest that lions apply less weight and strength than previously assumed, in fact they are not likely to apply anything at times. If you study the entire magazine without prejudice, you find that the lion’s behavior is much more involved with the fight. The tiger can also generate greater enthusiasm and has certainly attracted a greater number of researchers, but this does not make the animal more combative. All serious zoologists, bigcat zoology, understand that the lion throughout his life engages in terrible death fights. Most of the great experts of the debate, involved in the conservation of the plains of Africa have had some experience with the tigers at one time or another and have never found a specimen that differs from the lion in its weight. Some zoologists strictly involved with tigers have a surprising lack of knowledge about the lion’s behavior. The best qualified are the zoologists who are involved with all carnivorous mammals. Simply, the lion is a much more experienced animal in the fight, much more than other mammals. In a fight of animals of similar weights, the less experienced fighter is likely to lose. The tigers fight, but not by far as much as a pair of lions holding a whole pack. They do not plan a confrontation, as a nomadic lion does. They do not live in pairs, so they cannot hone their skills during mating competition. They do not have a mane that is often used as a protector in battle. If we ignore these options, we ignore zoology. All kinds of theory can be discussed, and tigers can demonstrate great intelligence, part of the theory may even be appropriate in one area or another, but the conclusion is that the lion is a much more accomplished veteran in his ability to kill in a fight. It has no weight disadvantage, we can have theories and foundations of passionate zoologists, but at the end of the day, the lion still has the mane around the head and neck, they cannot take that away and cannot ignore it. They use the mane to dampen an attack, however aggressive it may be, enduring about 2 minutes before the exhaustion of their rival, so that it retains energy at those critical moments. The tiger is set to attack at high speed and rest, its weapons are for that, instead of fighting.The lions have simply evolved to the rhythm of their attacks, regular fighting created the ability to learn about the energy reserve and thus acquire Resistance: We are talking about a long-term effect on history, 10,000 years would be necessary for the acquisition of this genetic instinct. The lion has the advantage would be my proper response. Through the sexual dimorphism of the species, the male lion, has evolved to specialize in the ability to fight, social life has allowed him this specialization. The tigers simply could not afford to be so perfectly suited for the fight, they have other demands, they acquired certain traits that are naturally at odds with the fight, instead, they focused on the skill. Lion females hunt and provide food, the lion was allowed to relax in favor of other tasks specifically suited for his role in the social group. What is basically being fighting, in its essence. Now, you have to accept it, in this of the lion vs tiger, the tiger is fighting an all-terrain machine, the fighting capacity of the natural tiger is inferior to that of the lions. This does not mean that on any given day a tiger cannot kill a lion, but the male of the lion species is the top boxer, unlike the male of the tiger species. To deny this is to ignore the incredible planet we live in and how it works.”

No. Lions cannot know if the lion whose roar they are listening to is lame, blind or missing 2 fangs. Impossible. Maybe yes in case of some kind of debilitating disease or respiratory system (lungs, throat…). But a leg or hip injury does not affect the roar of a lion at all.

Hi Aristotels,
HAs this been scientifically proven?

Sad news, but expected given the injury he sustained. Looking forward to continuing news about the remaining two males….. can they hold on to their territory or will neighboring coalitions look to make a move?!

It is always sad to say goodbye to a longtime « friend ». Let’s hope the 2 remaining can survive for a while. 😢Victoria

Then this could be bad news for the survival prospects of the cubs that the Birmingham coalition has sired on the property?

Senior Digital Ranger

James, good report as usual. Did you see him or just judge he was gone based on absence? It seems like just yesterday the B Boys arrived on the scene. How old would you guess he was? Are the surviving two in good shape? Keep up the good work…also, great photography as usual

Hi Jim,
Thanks for the kind words.
He died in Mala Mala about a kilometre east of Londolozi. Their rangers found his body and reported it to us.

Sorry to hear about the death of the injured male. Now he can join his brothers that have previously passed and finally be at peace. How long have the Birmingham males been around. Hope the two that are left can hold onto there territory for awhile . Was the Avoca males the ones that came through a while back and killed one of the male leopards. Thanks for all your great blogs it makes me feel like i’m right there.

Now to worry about the cubs sired by these males! Can the two continue to protect them from intruders? 😢

A sad loss indeed, but I think his brothers will be ok. The Sabi Sands is pretty stable when it comes to the lions, particularly the males. The three Northern Avocas are firmly entrenched in the northern sector of the Sabi Sands and their territory extends into the southern Manyeleti, and they are dominant over the Nkuhuma Pride and Talamati Pride. Then there’s the two Southern Avocas in the southern Sabi Sands. Then there’s the lone Matimba Male in the western sector, and the Othawa Male, who has been with the Mhangeni Pride on Sabi Sabi over the last little while. So I think the two Birminghams will be okay for the time being.

That said, there are five youung males from the Nharhu Pride of the Manyeleti (ironically nephews of the Birmingham Boys – sons of the Birminghams sisters, the Nharhu Lionesses, who broke away from the original Birmingham Pride – who have been hanging around the Southern Manyeleti and on Buffelshoek in the northern Sabi Sands (even making a foray onto Djuma Game Reserve) recently, but they are just turning four-years old at the end of this year, so probably lack the size and surely the confidence and experience the Birminghams and the Northern Avocas have.

Thanks for the updates Michael!

Happy to James! Dynamics are one of greatest interests when it comes to the lions and leopards!

Thanks for providing the detail!

Michael, how is it you know so much about the various prides and coalition? Are you living there?

Thanks Michael really appreciate your knowledge. Not sure if I am correct but where there not 4 young Mhangeni males and a female moved out a few years ago. Do you know where they have gone. I am a fellow Digital Tracker monitoring the sites of the adjacent properties to Londo (The only place to go) but not strong in the north. Very impressed.

Michael that is very true! The Nharu pride were ruled by the Thanda Impi Males but Scorro vanished after he lost his coalition partner Sizanani. One Nharu sub adult male joined the Mbiri pride i believe and was adopted by them (last i heard).
The Northern Avocas are firmly planted as the rulers of the Northern Sabi Sands. They have sired many cubs with the Nkuhuma Pride and even allowed the last Mhangeni male to feed for a while.
Their two slightly older brothers in the South have the Sparta Pride and are content for now.
Tinyo and Nhenha (Birminghams) are both 8 years old. Tinyo being one of the youngest of his brothers/cousins. They are still in great condition and have the back up of 6 fierce lionesses whom they have sired cubs with.

Gosh… i love this stuff. So interesting.

Loved reading your update and your views on Lion dynamics.

James and Michael… thank you for always sharing your info with us.

Much respect! Hope you are all well.

Those Nharu boys (born end of 2015) would make an interesting addition to Sabi Sands in a year or two. However, things are currently stable and i hope that it stays that way as there are many young cubs in the area. This would be great for Lion numbers in the area. Those nomadic young males from the N’waswitshaka Pride went back to Kruger and the Nharu Pride boys went back to the Manyeleti (i think). Which may be for the best right now.
Gotta love Sabi Sands!

In his prime one of the most beautiful lions you could see. RIP.

Although sad to hear, I’m so glad he isn’t suffering and starving since he couldn’t hunt. Interesting to see how the territories pan out in the next few months. Great work, James.

RIP, oh noble creature. Better to die roaring in the river than end up on some person’s wall.

It is really so very sad when one sees an injured lion and then hears of his death. We wish the remaining Birminghams every success in the future in holding their territories. Thank you, James, for the pics and the story. Wendy M

Oh no. This is so sad.

Beautiful beast. So fortunate to have seen him healthy last year and then after his injury in July this year. Remarkable that he was able to survive as long as he did in such bad shape.

Digital Ranger

Thank you for the update. What memories we have of the BB’s in the north and when they ousted the Matimbas. As you write the Avocas are very present on B’hoek, so it will be interesting to see what transpires.
Much appreciation for your wonderful blogs!

Senior Digital Ranger

Very sad to hear that Nsuku has passed into memory. He was a handsome boy.. I wish his brothers, Nhenha & Tinyo well whatever their future holds. The one worry I would have if they are ousted is the survival of the single cub of the Tsalala Female. Thank you for the blog and your thoughts.

Thanks for reporting this James. From what I gathered in my visit to Londolozi the Birmingham males have been a force for sometime. But like all good things…

What was the cause of the third Birmingham Males injury?

Senior Digital Ranger

Its so sad the lives these poor lions go through so hard. Of corse humans are a big cause pushing the prides closer and closer together creates more fights in turn more death. Theres many days I wish humans would just go away forever.

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