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Barry Bath

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Barry grew up in Johannesburg and knew from a young age that he had a true love for the African bush yet it was only after spending several years in the corporate world in Europe, followed by a two year sabbatical of traveling ...

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24 Comments

on Male Lions: The Dominant Ndhzenga Coalition

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Denise Vouri
Guest contributor

Great reporting on the dominant male lion coalition that appears to have settled into the Londolozi territory. Whilst I’ve not actually seen them on your property, I have seen them in the property south of Londolozi along with the Styx and Southern Prides – not at the same time! As described by you verbally and via Sean’s images, each is quite distinctive, although I didn’t see one with the abdominal injury which may have occurred after seeing him on my trip.
It will be interesting to see if new litters of cubs sired by the Ndhzengas will increase the size of the pride as they certainly haven’t been successful so far, yet as I recall, the Birminghams were very successful in that respect during their reign in Londolozi. Time will tell….

Barry Bath
Contributor

Hi Denise, to my knowledge the male sustained the stomach injury while he was still a young male in the KNP before moving into the Sabi Sand. It will certainly be interesting to see if they are able to raise a few successful litters with the Ntsevu pride. They have already got some sub adults that they’ve aired with the Styx pride so they’ve at least passed on some of their genes.

Gawie Jordaan
Digital Tracker

Thank you, Barry! I have a random question. Without only taking numbers of a coalition in consideration, what else do you think helps a coalition stake its claim? Can one consider factors like ages, genetics, experience & other lion coalition dynamics?

Barry Bath
Contributor

Hi Gawie, I think all of the points you’ve mentioned certainly come into play while a coalition is looking to stake their claim on a territory. Timing will also play a part as a young coalition might pass through an area where there is an already well established coalition essentially pushing them further adrift. A different scenario could result if the same young coalition happened to come across prime territory with the established males being injured or separated giving them an edge.

I think this is what makes lion dynamics so interesting is that there are so many variables at play and you never really can predict the outcome.

William Paynter
Master Tracker

Barry, thank you for the update and the history of the Ndhzenga coalition. It will be fascinating to observe them going forward. Londolozi is certainly a wonderful territory for them. Your pictures were very helpful in learning how to identify the individual males.

Barry Bath
Contributor

Hi William, it really is a great territory for them. Luckily they are quite easy to tell apart.

Christa Blessing
Master Tracker

Great blog on this new coalition on Londolozi’s territory. I hope that they will be more successful with their mating and that there might be new cubs around by next year. I am looking forward to seeing them!
Lions are always so great to watch and their roaring – especially if one is close by – is so impressive.

Barry Bath
Contributor

Hi Christa, there really isn’t anything quite like a lion roaring next to you. I also hope we will have some lion cubs around again soon.

Mary Beth Wheeler
Guest contributor

Nice history of the coalition, Barry. In April/May, one was extremely thin and apart from the others. But it looks like all 4 are healthy now, despite the hernia. Has the last Birmingham male and his pal ceded the territory to these fellas and moved west or are they sometimes seen on Londolozi?

Barry Bath
Contributor

Hi Mary Beth, the male that the other 3 “adopted” is the one with the injured front foot. I think the combination of him not being directly related as well as his injury leads to him being seen alone more often than the other 3. Being alone more often means it’s a bit harder for him to get a meal so his condition does tend to fluctuate more than the others.

We have still been seeing the Birmingham coalition but they seem to be nomadic rather than spending time in an established territory. They very rarely, if ever, roar which is a sure sign that they are not the territorial males on Londolozi currently.

Kara Taylor
Master Tracker

I loved seeing the video of them trotting up the road- very cool. It would be so great to have another dominate foursome of male lions!

Barry Bath
Contributor

Hi Kara, that image of them trotting up the road is etched into my memory forever.

Valmai Vorster
Master Tracker

Barry it is always a great achievement for the new lions to take over a territory. Ndhzenga Males are very impressive and it seems to me they are going to be the new pride to be reconed with. I am sure soon there will be cubs because the Ndhzenga Males have been mating with the Ntsevu lionessess. I am sure Barry you really appreciated James’ company that day, as he was the Alumni Ranger and I surely do miss his voice and updates everyday.

Barry Bath
Contributor

Hi Valmai, fingers crossed we’ll have some cubs very soon!

Tony McCutcheon
Explorer

The Ndhzenga’s are my favourite coalition of the modern times. I never knew why they were called both the N’waswitshaka’s and Ndhzenga’s, thanks for sharing. Hopefully not but I think they might head north and take Mohawk Avoca’s territory from him now that Blondie’s dead.

Barry Bath
Contributor

Hi Tony, the name Ndhzenga is also a lot easier to pronounce 🙂
They could possibly move their territory even further north. Time will tell.

Stephen Torgesen
Explorer

Hi Barry, thank you for the report. Any idea why the cubs are not surviving. I would think that with a dominate coalition other males cannot come in and commit infantcide. Disease, other females, hyenas, bad luck?

Barry Bath
Contributor

Hi Stephen, the cubs were all lost at a very early age. Before they had really grown old enough to join the rest of the pride. We think that it was a combination of hyenas and also an older territorial male leopard (Inyathini Male) in the area they were denning. The reality is that we can only assume as mostly nobody is around to see these types of events.

Moira McLachlan
Explorer

thanks for the update on the lion dynamics at Londolozi which is always fascinating. Hopefully new cubs will arrive a soon.

Barry Bath
Contributor

Hi Moira, the lion dynamics are always fascinating and hopefully we can give you an update on cubs in the not too distant future.

Francesca Doria
Master Tracker

One-in-a-million video! Lions are often seen while sleeping during the day, a view of four males trotting and roaring like that is exceptional. Are they all fine? How is the lion with the buffalo wound doing? Their resilience is incredible, the Birmingham male is a living proof. I found that it is more an exception to see a coalition of full litter brothers they usually are composed by different aged members or even unrelated individuals. A great adaptability that marks the success of the most impressive African species

Barry Bath
Contributor

Hi Francesca, they are all doing well. The male with the wound continues to surprise us all and continues as if the wound barely affects him. They certainly are the most impressive of the African carnivores. Their resilience is unrivaled.

Vin Beni
Guest contributor

Thanks for the update on the Ndhzenga coalition. I hope some offspring are in their future.
Not much mention of Avoca males lately.

Barry Bath
Contributor

Hi Vin, the Avoca males have not been seen nearly as often as they used to. One of the males that used to be seen with the Nkuhuma pride unfortunately passed a few weeks ago.

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