As we have mentioned a number of times over the last few months the lion dynamics at Londolozi have been in a bit of disarray since the upheaval of the Birmingham Coalition. With that being said the male lion dynamics have somewhat settled and been relatively stable with the Ndzhenga Males firmly embedded in the eastern parts of the reserve. Their stronghold stretches from east of our boundary across the entire southern parts of the reserve, with them occasionally venturing as far north as the Londolozi camps. The Avoca Males are still very prominent in northern parts and the Plains Camp Males in the western parts of Londolozi and aren’t seen as often as the other coalitions. Although they have established themselves in the west they are young and ambitious and constantly looking to grow their territory.
The newest addition to the lion dynamic, the Talamai Pride, have been moving through Londolozi on a regular basis in the past couple of months and have provided some fantastic sightings.
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On one of their recent missions through Londolozi, they came across a lone large male buffalo along the Sand River. In the company of one of the Northern Avoca Males, they brought this buffalo down close to Finfoot Crossing and secured themselves a hefty meal. With the river being close by they had easy access for a drink and many cool places to rest during the heat of the day.
The following day during our afternoon game drive, we decided to go and have a look at how much of the buffalo carcass was left. When we arrived there was about 20 % of the carcass remaining. A large carcass like a buffalo will always take time to finish, allowing the smell and commotion around it to attract other predators and vultures. The most likely to arrive on the scene are hyenas and vultures but with the presence of multiple lions in the area they knew better and were quite content sitting and waiting for the lions to leave. The presence of vultures around a kill will often attract other predators in the area as they can see them descending towards something from a distance away and that likely means there is something to eat nearby.
While watching the Northern Avoca Male feed we heard more lions calling north of us, it got his attention but wasn’t close enough to deter him from the buffalo. We felt like we were in the same boat as the Avoca Male, the calls didn’t sound close enough for us to rush out and try to find them. It wasn’t five minutes later when the distant calls came again and this time, they were a lot closer. They certainly had caught all of our attention, the whole pride along with the Avoca Male included. The roars had the lions walking towards the edge of the drainage line we were in to listen with a bit more intent. Moments later we saw a couple hyenas running for their lives followed by more lion calls.
Moments later some more calls sent the whole pride and Avoca Male into a complete panic. They rushed down towards the river where they believed they could make a quick escape. While deciding whether we should follow the lions, out of nowhere, the Plains Camp Males came hurtling into the area where the buffalo carcass was while calling at full volume, right Infront of us. After inspecting the area around the carcass, they soon got the scent of the pride and began trotting towards the area where the pride went moments before.
From where we were we got a brief view of the Talamati Pride and Northern Avoca Male running north away. By announcing their arrival before actually getting to the buffalo carcass, the Plains Camp Males were unsure of where the former owners of the carcass had run to. It took some time before they were able to pick up on the freshest scent left by the Talamati Pride. Giving them enough time to put adequate distance between them and the very aggressive Plains Camp Males.
Finally tagging on to the scent the aggressors followed it for a short period before realising that there was more value in heading back to the buffalo to claim their prize. If it wasn’t for the remains of the carcass, the initial reason why the Plain Camp Males came to the area, I believe that the Northern Avoca Male could have been in a sticky situation. The Plains Camp Males would have probably trailed the scent of the Talamati Pride for longer and possibly caught the Northern Avoca Male. In a battle between the two Plains Camp Males and the alone Avoca Male, the outcome was unlikely to favour the single older male.
Before feasting on the buffalo, they both walked around the area scent marking and calling constantly. A sign of dominance from the Plains Camp Male.
Watching two male lions salivating and intent on asserting their dominance after charging in will always get the heart racing. What is more exciting for me is the fact that the Plains Camp Males seem to be expanding their territory. This event would likely give them a lot of confidence going forward. The fight for dominance between male lions is always changing and I believe that we could see the Plains Camp Males moving more and more onto Londolozi over the next few months.