The Tsalala Pride, as I’m sure many of you know, has been a major part of our lion viewing over the past two decades. Although, due to the shifting of the Nkuhuma Pride further south, the Ntsevu Pride still dominating the eastern portion of the reserve and the Mhangeni Pride to the west, this pride has been squeezed into a slightly smaller, narrower ‘territory’ while biding their time and avoiding any conflict. I say ‘territory’ because they are more nomadic than anything else.
As of March 2021 the Tsalala lioness’s single female offspring was two years old.
Firstly, a lioness rearing a single cub successfully (repeating history from the original Tailless Female all the way back in 2002) is rare; not having other pride members to support her cub rearing and furthermore, often when litter-mates are killed and one cubs remains the lioness tends to neglect and abandon her cub.
Secondly, the fact that the cub is female means that in the future these two should remain together. With the older Tsalala female likely to be coming back into oestrus soon this points to the possibility of new cubs in the near future (if cubs are successfully raised the lioness will birth her next litter approximately 20-30 months later – which is now approaching for the older Tsalala female).
Thirdly, at about two years old the younger female can successfully partake in hunts, not that the older Tsalala female needs any help but one extra hunter may well result in prey being caught more frequently.
Lastly the younger lioness at her current age is far less likely to be killed by dominant males as she is no longer fully dependent on her mother, and within the coming year she will find herself approaching sexual maturity.
We now can’t help but hope that this pride will see out the next two decades and hope that this pair of lionesses will flourish and successfully rebuild the Tsalala Pride.
With the Northern Avoca males dominating the north of Londolozi (where the Tsalala pride is encountered most often) it is likely that they will be the dominant males the pride will mate with.
The Birmingham males, although still dominant over the Ntsevu Pride, aren’t often found without one or more of the Ntsevu females. The males’ territorial patrols have become somewhat reduced, which is to be expected as they approach 12 years of age, a time in which a male lion’s strength is on the wane.
That’s not to say we can rule them out from mating with the Tsalala Pride but we haven’t known them to be in the same areas for quite some time.
We look forward to seeing how the lion dynamics may change in the upcoming months.
The Tsalala lineage once consisted of another single female who managed to rear cubs on her own and now with history repeating itself, I hope that in the next couple of years this pride will re-establish itself.
I may be nostalgic but I love the fact that recent sightings of the pride have been around Ximpalapala Koppie, the very place where the original two females who were once a part of the Castleton Pride denned their four cubs – one of which survived to become the Original Tailless Female.
The Tsalala saga continues…