Here’s the awaited follow-on from Part 1 of an update on the Lions of Londolozi that had been posted a couple weeks ago. As mentioned before, the lion dynamics unfolding across Londolozi are in a constant state of flux. Each new day holds within it the element of surprise. As always, it is incredibly exciting to follow the storyline of each lion, pride or coalition that we see. It really does keep us on the edge of our Landrover’s seats. Part 1 consisted of a brief update of the lions that we see the most, and Part 2 will cover the lions that we see less often. Once again in no particular order, here goes:
The Ntsevu Breakaway Pride
The Ntsevu breakaway pride roam far and wide across the Sabi Sand region. However, they appear to stay clear of the territory of the Ndzhenga males. We are seeing them most in the southern and southwestern parts of Londolozi.
This breakaway pride currently consists of four males and one female, three males were born in 2018 and one male and the female were born in 2019. These youngsters are doing incredibly well so far and are all in great condition. Following in the footsteps of their late fathers, the Birmingham Males, they are growing up as excellent buffalo hunters. We’ve seen an increase in their rate of hunting success over the last couple of months as they gain experience. And recently they had even managed to take down an adult female giraffe.
These young males will be a serious force to be reckoned with by other rival males in the near future. Assuming they stay as a coalition of four, on paper they will have the upper hand over other dominant coalitions that we see in the Sabi Sand region. Only time will tell where they end up and where they decide to stake their claim.
The young female has been looked after very well by her brothers thus far. Interesting times lie ahead for this young female. Being the only female will mean that she will reach a point where she will separate from her brothers and potentially roam around on her own for a little while. It’s likely that she will look to return to the Ntsevu Pride one day, just as her sisters did. However, the chances of the Ntsevu Lionesses accepting her is a huge debate that we are currently having at the moment.
The chances are slim but it is not impossible. The Ndzhenga males will be her biggest threat if she returns now, which is one of the main reasons why it will be crucial for her to only return once she is older. She needs to be mature enough to be seen by the Ndzhenga Males as another member of the Ntsevu Pride that is sexually mature and is mating stock, and not simply the offspring of the late Birmingham Males.
The Tsalala Female
The Tsalala Female continues to thrive, and it is heartwarming for us as rangers and trackers to see her success story continue. Every time we come across her, we cannot help but think about how well she has adapted to the challenges she faces as a solitary lioness since the passing of her mother almost 2 years ago.
She generally does not travel too far from the Sand River, which has become her main hunting ground. She’s essentially learnt the art of living like a leopard. She knows the network of water channels, the dense mazes of phragmites and the forests of matumi trees that lie within the heart of the Sand River. She’s become equally as adept as some of the most experienced leopards in the area such as the Senegal Bush Male and Nhlanguleni Female, who I’m sure she encounters fairly regularly.
A fair amount of the Tsalala Female’s life goes by unseen by us as rangers and trackers due to the limited vehicle access within the areas she occupies, but whenever we do see her, it appears that she is doing just fine.
Often I can lie in bed at night and hear her calling from across the Sand River, as she wanders through the beautiful moonlit crests on Marthly. I’m sure she is eager for a companion, or for a male with which to mate. We’re anticipating that she’ll hopefully be raising a litter of cubs within this next year if all goes well for her. We have no evidence of the Skorro Young Male mating with her, but both of them seem to be settling within the same area. We will definitely put out some updates on this if anything does materialize.
The Nkuhuma Male
The Nkuhuma Male’s life thus far continues to be a little bit of a struggle. It is unfortunate for him that he is a big, powerful young male who is ultimately in the prime of his life but is constantly on the run from dominant males. He has no territory of his own and therefore no pride that he is dominant over. Throughout the past couple of weeks, he has spent quite a bit of time in the most southern reaches of Londolozi, where he has been tagging along with the four Talamati Females, who also roam far and wide.
If you are familiar with the Nkuhuma Male, you’ll know that he has not had much luck forming a lasting coalition with another male. Within the last few months, he has been seen spending time with the Tumbela Male in the far western sector of the Sabi Sand, as well as the Talamati Young Male/s prior to that. He also recently managed to survive an attack by the Ntsevu Breakaway Pride, holding his own and thankfully not sustaining any lasting injuries.
At this stage, the best thing that could happen for the Nkuhuma Male would be if he were to consolidate a strong bond with another male. A male such as the Skorro Young Male would be an ideal candidate as they are very much facing the same challenges. Together, the two of them would be able to form a formidable coalition that would solve many of the problems they face as solo nomadic males. It will be very interesting to see what would happen if these two males came across one another one day. If only there was a way to tell them about one another?
The Talamati Young Males
For quite some time these young males had separated, but are now back together and are occupying the northeastern part of the Sabi Sand Nature Reserve. They have had a fair share of encounters with the Black Dam Males, who have attempted to run them down on a few occasions. For now, these males are both doing very well and are excellent hunters just like their sisters who are seen frequently within the southwest of Londolozi.
There was a stage a few months ago where we were seeing the bigger of the two males almost daily, but seldom now since they have reunited.
Although we are not seeing them as much now, we do come across them every now and then as they venture onto Marthly. So we’ll keep an eye on their progress from a distance. With the Ntsevu Breakaways now becoming a dangerous encounter for any young males in the southwest, the northern reaches seem to be the safest bet for these two young males. Just like the Nkuhuma Male, these young males also survived an attack by the Ntsevu Breakaways a couple months ago. Being outnumbered, they decided to flee instead of fight. They have not been seen in southwest Londolozi since then.
The Plains Camp Males
The Plains Camp Males are a seriously formidable coalition. They are very aggressive towards intruders and will often pursue and try to hunt them down. Their territory’s range overlaps a small section of western Sparta and western Marthly. Generally, this means that nowadays the only time we see these males on Londolozi is once they have detected an intruder and come out in full force to inspect the eastern outskirts of their territory.
The Skorro Young Male has worked out exactly where his boundaries are with the Plains Camp Males. He occupies the eastern half of western Sparta and a small section north of that on Marthly. Sometimes his confidence as a young male roaring and scent marking places him in grave danger as we have come across tracks of the Plains Camp Males coming after him as far east as our Camps.
These males are content with their position as rulers of the Western sector of the Sabi Sands and are dominant over the Mhangeni and Ximungwe Prides. Currently, their main focus seems to be on ensuring the survival of their nine cubs, whom they are siring with the Mhangeni Pride.
Without a doubt, the next couple of years are sure to see the unfolding of some very exciting lion dynamics. The many young males in the area are fast approaching the age where they’ll want to hold territory. The potential of the Tsalala legacy to continue once more also looms large – when will she have cubs? Will the Nkuhuma Male finally find a suitable coalition partner? Stay tuned for future updates on the Lions of Londolozi.