2021 was a year of unprecedented change. The global Coronavirus pandemic kept us on our toes and taught us to take things one step at a time. As much as the virus affected people all over the world, the animals went about their business as usual, as Dave Varty said in his 2021 yearly round-up,
“at least leopards don’t get Covid!”
We were lucky enough to have a pack of wild dogs denning on Londolozi which provided amazing viewing, new leopard and even cheetah cubs, and let us not forget the arrival of new male lions, the N’watsichaka (Ndzenga) males. Just to name a few of the highlights…
So what does 2022 hold? Let’s break it down…
The Nkoveni Female still has her two female cubs who are 11 months old, meaning during the course of this year we could have two more resident female leopards on the property. I say this because if she does successfully raise them to independence, she will likely cede a portion of her territory to them. There is vacant space to the South of her territory as the Mashaba Female seems to have shifted her territory further afield to the south.
The Ximungwe Female’s Male Cub is growing in strength and stature and is only slightly older than the Nkoveni Female’s Cubs, just under 11 months old. It will be an amazing feat if the Ximungwe Female can raise her second cub to independence in less than four years. During 2022 might be too soon, but hopefully, within the next 11-13 months he may become a roaming, nomadic male on Londolozi and her surroundings.
The Piccadilly Young Female is almost completely independent and we should start seeing her establishing a territory of her own in the first half of the year, most likely north of the Sand River.
The youngest cub on the property at this stage is the Three Rivers Female’s Young Male Cub, only four and a half months of age (in January ’22), she will still need to provide for him for the remainder of the year.
The Mhangeni Pride needs a dominant coalition to sire their cubs and subsequently protect them. They have remained fairly under the radar so to speak, most likely because they still have one cub that is around eight months old. The most likely contenders seem to be the Plain’s Camp Males who have made a name for themselves on the western parts of Londolozi. If the pride accepts them, the fate of this cub is unfortunately not looking good… It does mean however that two young, big males will be able to sire new litters of cubs and look after the pride.
The Ntsevu Lionesses still have cubs that belong to the Birmingham Males. With only one Birmingham Male having been seen over the last four months (the whereabouts of his coalition partner is unknown and questions of whether he is still alive being asked), these cubs are vulnerable to the new males on the block, the four Ndzhenga Males. These males have moved in and laid claim to what was once was the Birmingham Male’s territory and it will be interesting to see how the coming months unfold.
The movements of both the Ntsevu and Nkuhuma Sub-adult Lions has been fairly erratic. The make-up of both groups contains both males and females (Ntsevu: 6 males and 5 females; Nkuhuma: 5 males and 2 females), and what will most likely happen is the males from each group will form nomadic coalitions respectively and the females will form new prides. This inference is based on the history of prides in the area and may not play out as described, but if it does, it will most likely be this coming year. With this being said, the Plains Camp Males have already been seen associating themselves with the Nkuhuma Sub-adult Females in recent months, so the split might be coming sooner than originally anticipated.
Lastly, the fate of the Tsalala Pride rests upon one lioness, the last standing Tsalala Female. The ongoing saga of this famous pride continues and only time will tell if she will be able to survive long enough to have cubs of her own, given the ever-changing lion dynamics around her, this will not be easy.
One thing is for sure, interesting times lay ahead. I can’t wait to see how all of these dynamics play out in the coming months and we will be sure to keep the extended Londolozi family updated if and when things do change. Happy 2022!