Othawa male in the last picture
James Tyrrell recently summarised the general lion dynamics on Londolozi. The male lion dynamics of the Sabi Sands have drawn special attention over the years, particularly during the reign of the mighty Mapogo coalition and thereafter the Majingilane males. Witnessing male lions fight over territory is exhilarating to say the least. At present, the two remaining Birmingham males reign over much of Londolozi and into Mala Mala to our east. They are currently siring 14 cubs in the Ntsevu pride and the single Tsalala female’s youngster in addition to those that they fathered as they ventured south away from their natal area. However, it would appear that we are nearing a shift in dynamics…
More and more often we are hearing the roars from the Avoca males to our north. From what we are told, there are three brothers, of which two spend most of their time together and the third apart. On several occasions now, two Avoca males have ventured right through northern Londolozi and even crossed south over the Sand River. This is right into the Birmingham males’ territory.
When together, we have heard them roaring from within the Birmingham males’ territory. This is a direct threat to the current dominant males reign over the area. The trouble is, the Birmingham males have established such a large territory that there are opportunities for other males to sneak in unnoticed. The Birmingham males were born in 2010 and were once a coalition of five. Now down to two and soon to be eleven years old, they are nearing the end of their tenure.
From a male lion’s perspective, the more territory that you can take over, the greater the chance of finding receptive lionesses with which you can mate and spread your genes. This is a natural progression as males grow in size and confidence. It would seem that the two Avoca males are pushing further and further into the heart of Londolozi now as they reach their prime. Just a few days ago, we found one alone on the southern bank of the Sand River. He called several times, before walking right across the breadth of the reserve in response to two lions calling in the far north east of the area. We eventually left him walking and scent marking as he headed straight towards Mala Mala to the east. This is a bold move, as he traversed right through areas in which we would normally expect to see the Ntsevu Pride and Birmingham males.
Interestingly, the Ntsevu pride has given birth to cubs on some rocky outcrops east of Londolozi in an area very close to where the Avoca males regularly reside, on the edge of the Birmingham males’ territory. If the Avoca males discover these cubs, it may spell the worst for them, but it may also draw these younger males into that area in an attempt to mate with the pride lionesses. If the Avoca males shift south, this could result in the Nkuhuma Pride also shifting south in response to the pride males, bringing them square into the middle of Londolozi’s northern parts. It would be incredible to have another large pride (in addition to Ntsevu) regularly viewed on Londolozi, however this would inevitably put pressure on the Tsalala female who is currently exploiting the somewhat “safe” area within the Sand and Manyelethi Rivers, north of the Londolozi camps.
Hypothesise as we do, but only time will tell. With two male lions in their prime potentially facing up against two ageing but experienced male lions, things could get interesting. For now we listen to the persistent roars from all sides that reverberate across the landscape…
Thanks Tino, we have adjusted the post.