We are fortunate to see five different lion prides on Londolozi, although it’s unusual for them to all be on the reserve at the same time.
In fact if you were to ask which of the high-profile animals gives us the biggest headache when it comes to finding them, Lions would be it. Regularly covering big distances, there are days (although thankfully few and far between) when there simply isn’t a lion on Londolozi. They might all be at the far corners of their respective territories, and we are left staring disconsolately at tracks in the dust.
Since the current lion situation on Londolozi is one of change, we thought we’d do a brief run-through of the lion prides that form the mainstay of our viewing; their current situations and future prospects.
Currently the biggest pride on Londolozi and the greater Sabi Sand Reserve as far as we know, the Ntsevu pride consists of 6 females and either 13 or 14 sub-adults and cubs. We aren’t 100% sure of this last number as the pride has been split up a lot of late and no one has made an accurate count of the full pride for some time.
Recent reports are that one of the lionesses has given birth to two cubs, and the really exciting news in that development is that it looks like it is the female we long suspected of being infertile.
If she has given birth, and we can still expect new litters soon from four other lionesses (the mother of the three youngest – excluding the newest cubs – is unlikely to birth for some time still), the pride might be having some significant additions made to it soon.
That being said, most of us suspect some sort of split in the pride when the majority of the females start raising small cubs again, although what form that takes remains to be seen.
This female is still successfully raising her single offspring. The young lioness is approaching 18 months old now, and her mother continues to operate along a narrow band of territory along the Manyelethi and Sand Rivers, avoiding other prides, stealing kills from leopards, and maintaining a low profile.
This tactic has worked so far, but with the Ntsevu pride encroaching in the east of her territory and the Mhangeni pride starting to squeeze in from the west, she might start feeling the territorial pinch soon.
The Birmingham males continue to maintain some sort of a buffer for her, but as they age, that might shrink both in its size and effectiveness.
Two new cubs have recently been added to this pride of six lionesses. They are being stashed for the most part to the west of Londolozi but they have made at least one foray onto the western part of our reserve.
We didn’t view this pride regularly during 2019, but the last few months have seen them moving through the Sand River upstream from our camps more and more, and hunting successfully on the marula slopes to our south-west.
The Othawa male that is often with them has been very vocal of late, which might mean he senses a weakness in the Birmingham coalition to the south-East.
We expect to see a lot more of the Mhangeni pride in the coming months.
We were viewing the Styx pride quite frequently at the start of lockdown, but of late sightings have been hard to come by.
Without a dominant male accompanying them (they have apparently been joined by one of the Nkuhuma young males), this pride is now semi-vagrant, popping up all over the place and without a defined territory that we can make out.
It’s hard to make an accurate prediction about a pride that has been so inconsistent.
These lions are the latest exciting addition to our viewing, as sightings of them have been increasing of late.
A big pride of eight lionesses and nine cubs, with the two Avoca males often in tow, they are an impressive sight, ranking only behind the Ntsevu pride in size in the area.
Although not firmly established on a large chunk of Londolozi (yet), with the Avoca makes being seen further and further south, and with the Birmingham males not putting up much of a showing in the north of Londolozi anymore, we are expecting more frequent sightings of the Nkuhumas going forward…
This was just a brief Summary of the Who’s who of Londolozi prides. We’ll go into slightly more detail of the individual prides and coalitions in the coming weeks.