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Sean Zeederberg

Blog Editor

As a young boy growing up on an agricultural farm in Zimbabwe, Sean spent every opportunity entertaining himself outdoors, camping in the local nature reserve and learning about all facets of the natural world. After completing a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental ...

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52 Comments

on The Legacy of the Tsalala Pride

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Irene Henkes
Digital Tracker

I was heartbroken when I heard the mother Tsalala died last month. I so hope that the daughter will manage to keep going and raise cubs by herself. Interesting to know that the Mhangeni and Ntsevu prides are related to her. But still, they are not Tsalala’s……….

Sean Zeederberg
Blog Editor

We were all heartbroken, it was such tragic news. I hope the young female will be able to re-establish the Tsalala Pride.

Christa Blessing
Master Tracker

The story of the Tsalala lionesses is truly a very moving one. I have always admired their tenacity and stamina against all the odds of their respective fates.
Thanks, Sean, for summarizing and telling the stories of their amazing lives. I remember seeing the two tailless lionesses together in 2013. Since then I have been fascinated by their story.

Sean Zeederberg
Blog Editor

Thank you so much, Christa. It is such an amazing story, so I felt we needed to put it all down in one place and share it with everyone.

Deb Kohlenstein
Explorer

Thank you for this informative blog about the Tsalala Pride. Having visited Londolozi in 2016 and 2018 we were fascinated with the stories of the tailless lioness and her pride. One of our most prized photos is of the tailless lioness. We missed our 2020 trip because of the pandemic but feel connected because of the blog. Thank you!! We look forward to when we can visit again. Deb and Frank Kohlenstein

Sean Zeederberg
Blog Editor

Thank you, Deb. They are an amazing Pride of lions and the story is very moving. Hopefully, the young female will be around and maybe with cubs by the next time you visit, fingers crossed.

Lisa
Explorer

An amazing story of love, bravery, and misfortune. The Tsalala pride were/are true survivors. I’m inspired by their resilience and their sheer will to survive. They will always hold a special place in my heart. Even more so now that I know more about their struggles and triumphs.
My heart is broken following the death of the recent Tsalala female who I grew to love, but I have enough heart left to wish every good fortune to her daughter. I hope the spirit and tenacity of her ancestors will be with her as she undertakes her own journey.
Thank you for honouring this inspiring pride.

Sean Zeederberg
Blog Editor

Thank you so much, Lisa. It is an amazing story and we all hold the Tsalala Pride very close to our hearts. Let’s hope that the young female manages to make it through.

Johanna Browne
Senior Digital Ranger

Such a beautiful heartfelt tribute. I had been trying to find out the history through past posts-so thank you! Seeing that this beautiful young female is about the same age as when her mother lost her family, I have more hope. Our hearts are with her.

Sean Zeederberg
Blog Editor

Thank you so much, Johanna. It is such an incredible story so I felt it only necessary to put it all down in one place to share with everyone.

Vin Beni
Guest contributor

Wow! Don’t know where to begin! Sean, a remarlablee chronology that answers so many unanswered questions we’ve had. We “entered” the story in 2013 and have seen much of what you discussed since then. I actually believe we have a photo of The Original Tailless Female, although we were totally unaware and naive about the whole lion lineage story at that time. Thanks for filling some of the blanks!

Sean Zeederberg
Blog Editor

Thank you so much, Vin. I am so glad I could answer so many of the questions and keep a record of all the stories. It is amazing to be part of this fascinating story.

William Paynter
Senior Digital Ranger

This story of the genealogy of the lions of Londolozi is remarkable. Thanks to you Sean and all the Londolozi staff for preserving the history.

Sean Zeederberg
Blog Editor

Thank you so much, William. It is a great collection of information and all the stories. I am glad I am able to share it with everyone.

Camille Koertner
Senior Digital Ranger

Sean. Thank you for an informative and very emotional timeline of this gritty and courageous pride. The Divine in me, bows to the Divine in you! Namaste and God Speed Tsalala female.

Sean Zeederberg
Blog Editor

Thank you so much, Camille.

Willa Stanger
Explorer

A breathtaking, incredible saga. Thank you for a wondrous recounting of an amazing journey.

Sean Zeederberg
Blog Editor

Thank you so much, Willa. The story itself makes telling it so easy.

Al Kaiser
Guest contributor

Fabulous story Sean! I have some conflicting info re: March 2016 litter. I will send through details with photo by email.

Sean Zeederberg
Blog Editor

Great, thanks so much, Al. I look forward to your email. Thank you.

Valmai Vorster
Master Tracker

Hi Sean, the Tsalala females had everything thrown at them and so many of them being killed. The cubs were repeatedly killed which left a huge gap in the pride growing stronger and bigger. The two lionessess that lost their tales shows absolutely resilience in survival. It must of been so painful for them, and as I was reading the legacy of the Tsalala pride, all I could think off, is that they were two outstanding lionessess. They never gave up, no matter what the situation was, they kept their witts and survived. Very sad to hear this month that the mother of the sub adult female has been killed. She needs a medal because she beat the odds at all costs. Hope the remaining last lioness will survive and have cubs to keep the legacy ongoing. Thanks Sean for this whole story of on the Tsalala pride. I’m sure you all were heartbroken about her death. May her daughter carry on the genes of the formidable Tsalala pride.

Sean Zeederberg
Blog Editor

Thank you so much, Valmai. They were a phenomenal pride of lions and showed so much determination and will to survive no matter what. Let’s hope the young female is able to re-establish the pride.

Ann Richardson Berg
Senior Digital Ranger

What a fantastic Pride! So sad that the mother was killed! Difficult for her to lose her mother and friend. I think and hope that this young female will make it!

Sean Zeederberg
Blog Editor

Thank you, Ann. It is tragic to lose your mother and closest friend. I think she will make it too.

Mj Bradley
Senior Digital Ranger

Thank you for the history of the Tsalala Pride. They have always

Sean Zeederberg
Blog Editor

Thank you, MJ.

Stephen Torgesen
Explorer

That pride sure has had some tough luck. I have only been following your blog for a few years, but it appears that cubs that are born, whether lion or leopard, have a much better chance of reaching adulthood when you have stable male dynamics in the area. Do you think the male lions that killed the Tsala lioness sensed that she was pregnant and the cubs weren’t sired by them?

Sean Zeederberg
Blog Editor

Hi Stephen. Yes, that is exactly it. The male dynamics are vital to the cubs’ survival. If the males are unstable then they are not able to keep rivals out and the different rival males will kill the cubs. I am not too sure as to why they would have killed her. I am just hypothesizing now, but it could be a combination of factors as it always is. She was pregnant, which means she will be releasing an array of hormones, which sometimes can confuse the males to believe she is in heat. The males will then want to try to mate with her. She could have also been trying to protect her daughter from the males as they could potentially harm her as the daughter is not yet sexually mature. There could have also been a carcass involved that she was trying to protect. It will be interesting to find out the real reason why but sadly I don’t think that is possible.

Michael Fleetwood
Digital Tracker

Great article Sean! Absolutely amazing recollection! One minor thing is that the Tsalala lioness who was killed and her brothers were born in 2013, not 2014. Wishing the young female all the luck and historical fortunes that her mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother had! Any recent updates on her that you know of?

Sean Zeederberg
Blog Editor

Thank you so much, Michael. Great thank you for that information.
Sadly, we haven’t heard of anything recently. She had been lurking along the Sand River but there has been a lot of lion activity nearby so she has most likely moved back further west. As soon as we hear anything we will let you know.

Thank you for such an absolutely epic, Shakespearean story of the Tsalala pride. I met the pride in May 2015 when both the Original Tailless, the Younger Tailless, and her sister were doing well and had a lot of cubs. I had no idea of their dramatic history, but have followed their stories in the blog ever since. It seems like one tragedy after another, but their grit and determination through all challenges, and willingness to split up to try and keep the cubs safe when necessary, is really inspiring. So many people around the world are rooting for the remaining young lioness. I hope the male lion dynamics at Londolozi get settled before she is ready to mate, so her potential cubs will be protected.

Susan Young
Explorer

Sean , your details of their brave and amazing life, left me speechless. I have gained much from reading the comments you have received over the last 30 hours.
Let us hope the cub can survive and thrive

Suzanne Gibson
Guest contributor

Thank you Sean, what an incredible story!
As an aside, does anyone know what Adam Bannister is up to these days? Last I heard (and that was many years ago) he was working at a jaguar project in Brazil.

Melinda Ruggiero
Explorer

What a fascinating and amazing story of the Tsalala Pride; it’s also very touching! Thank you for sharing this history.

Denise Vouri
Guest contributor

Thank you Sean for your summary of Adam’s brilliant timeline of the Tsalala pride. Knowing some of her legacy to persevere against all odds, I’m hopeful her daughter can carry on these amazing genes. I’ll be waiting for future updates.

Cally Staniland
Master Tracker

The history of the Tsalala females was mind blowing ! Having only come into the picture in 2020, the last remaining Tsalala mother became an instant heroine for me, fighting of the Birmingham males and the Ntsevu pride and then going on to raise her daughter in very difficult circumstances. Now knowing the whole story I can understand where she got the courage and strength to overcome all the obstacles that were thrown her way. It certainly gives me hope for the last remaining Tsalala female🙏🏻💗thank you Sean and especially Adam Bannister for his dedication to this remarkable pride.

Mary Beth Wheeler
Guest contributor

Your chronology brought back many memories – we saw Mapogos in the west in ‘07, Majingilanes in ‘10 through ‘17, Birminghams in ‘18 and a few others in between but the Tsalalas were always there. I hope the young female learned enough from her mother to stay alive and thrive!

Malavika Gupta
Senior Digital Ranger

Wonderfully detailed account of the tsalala lineage.

Debra Matott
Explorer

Thank you, Sean, for sharing the story of the Tsalala pride with us! They are an incredible lineage! Took me a few days to get to read it because I wanted to make sure I had the time to take it all in. I must admit though I might have to read again because there is just so much history there. Here’s to hoping the lone survivor can make a big comeback in the future!

Marcia Parker
Senior Digital Ranger

Thank you for putting together the Tsalala Prides history. I had read a bit of it, but had no idea how long and complex it was/is. Lion dynamics are fascinating.

Sean Zeederberg
Blog Editor

You are welcome, Marcia. It is truly a fascinating story with so many complexities. It is just great to have the entire story all in one place.

Lisa
Explorer

Hi Sean, can you complete your sentence? I’m interested to know the answer. You’ve written: ‘Tsalala being the Shangaan name for a ,’. There appears to be at least one word missing. Thanks.

Sean Zeederberg
Blog Editor

Hi Lisa, so sorry about that, it must have been deleted accidentally during an edit. It is the Shangaan name for a Bushveld Gardenia tree.

Lisa
Explorer

Thank you.

Darlene Knott
Master Tracker

Absolutely fascinating reading! Sad times, happy times, shocking events! All very compelling! Thanks so much for sharing this, Sean Zeederberg!

Sean Zeederberg
Blog Editor

Thank you so much, Darlene. It is such an amazing story.

Barbara Weyand
Digital Ranger

Your very moving history with its sad updated news of the Tsalala females brought back wonderful memories of my time at Londolozi. It is a dream I have to return for another special and wonderful visit.

Sean Zeederberg
Blog Editor

Thank you, Barbara. The Tsalala Pride has such a fascinating history, so I am glad I got to share it with everyone. Hopefully, you will be able to visit us again soon.

Lisa Antell
Digital Tracker

Hi Sean, We saw the Tsalalas on Dulini in early July and had a fabulous sighting of them crossing the river! Magical stuff (see my IG for some photos). Also we saw the last remaining Tsalala male in early Aug 2019 feeding off an old buffalo carcass that the Nkuhuma young male had also fed on earlier and Nsuku (Birmingham) was found nearby that same carcass as well. So the 3x 2015 Tsalala males did not all die in the electrocution….one survived (“Three Tooth”) and was seen until about a year ago in Kruger, as he had formed a coalition with some other males (details unclear), but they were reportedly in a battle with other males and have disappeared. Your amazing summary is so chock full of info and also shows the incredibly complex relationships and lives of these lions!!

Matt Curtin
Explorer

Great article. I’ve read it twice. I came across this information on the Tsala 2014 males. According to this only two of the three died due to the downed power lines. https://youtu.be/R1001Qdm5uU

Vaseem Baig
Digital Ranger

This blog I had to read several times in order to understand the events of Tsalala pride since I started following the lions only from 2011. The struggle, turmoil, untimely deaths in a single thriving pride gives insight to the reader how difficult and tragic the life of a lion is in wild. It is indeed heartbreaking to know that despite of recovery in the pride at regular intervals, the changes in male lion dynamics results in far reaching consequences amongst the cubs and subadult lions. I hope and pray, the sole female survivor repeats history of her great grand mother and think time will tell. Finally thank the londolozi rangers and in particular Adam Banister for recording the events of the Tsalala pride so beautifully for the benefit of lion followers like me and for the future generations.

Leonie De Young
Digital Tracker

You have all done such a great job of keeping the history of this pride. I know you were all heartbroken at the death of the tailess matriarch – I have shed many tears just reading all of this. These animals were incredibly resilient and brave in their quest to survive. They persevered through many tragedies and hardships. I pray that the surviving members will prevail and carry on the legacy. Thanks Sean – a mixed emotion blog.

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