We have been seeing the Mangheni pride a lot more frequently of late, and long may it last.
As a guide you sometimes try and tick all the boxes when it comes to viewing lions; most guests are as desperate to see a male lion, then a pride of females and then if one is lucky, cubs too. Currently the Mhangeni pride ticks every box and so much more.
They are a pride made up of adult lionesses, their cubs, and more often than not with the Othawa male in tow. Unlike the Nstevu pride it is not very often you see this pride split up, so if you set off in the morning and find fresh tracks, the excitement boils as you get hopeful to track and find the full complement.
One particular morning recently, James Tyrrell and I did just that.
There had been tracks quite far south and west on Londolozi the previous evening, but no one had found the lions.
We set off checking our boundary and bumped into a member of the Anti-poaching unit, who told us he had seen the lions cross out of Londolozi at about 2 am. Our expressions were gloomy after hearing this news, but we decided to just double check the area anyway; maybe the lions had looped back.
Suddenly in the distance, an unmistakable golden, orange and black mane stood out: the Ottawa male lying in the open!
After a few too many high fives between James and I, we were thrilled to be able to sit and spend time with this pride.
Having clearly been resting through the early morning hours, one lioness started to make her way to a nearby pan, followed by the three cubs who took quite a while to get there as they were constantly playing. Soon having lost sight of the mother, they decided to contact call as well.
It was only 10 minutes in and we had cubs playing, a walk-by from an impressive mother lioness and calls back and forth. The rest of the pride followed suit and as predicted, so did the Ottawa male. Having quickly looped around a termite mound, to the nearest pan, we watched each lion lap up water one after another, in a pan that provided one of, if not the best reflections I’ve seen in awhile.
Seeing animals drink is honestly one of the best sightings, let alone a full pride of Lions. The cubs then provided quite the amount of humour while play fighting in the mud.
It was getting really hot but we actually didn’t notice as we were encapsulated by everything happening around us. without realising it we were actually providing the perfect shady spot next to our vehicle, in which the pride all soon came and lay in. At the time I was videoing when one female decided to make her way right next to us. I was holding my breathe for sure but at the same time grinning ear to ear by how relaxed the lions were and the incredible sighting I was witnessing, on what can only be described as a quintessential African safari morning.
I am hoping this post does not jinx us seeing more and more of this pride, but I think we have lots more viewing to come.
The Othawa male is quite frankly one the the most impressive male lions I have seen and with the Birmingham males ageing, he could be here to stay. Your guess is as good as mine as to what’s going to unfold but I’m as excited as you to find out.