It’s been dangerous times for the Southern Pride and their cubs as the ever-dynamic territories of lions evolve. The Southern Pride females and their 14 cubs have been left in a vulnerable position as the power-hungry Charleston males have tried to extend their empire south of the Sabie River into the Kruger National Park. It has been suggested that they are struggling to get back due to the high-water level, but it also could be that all the Southern Pride females have sired cubs and therefore their need to reproduce has pushed them in search of females looking to mate. This has forced the Southern Pride to retreat back towards the Southern section of their territory, an area that they feel very comfortable in and has been a stronghold for them in recent times, however this has left the northern section of their territory open to intruders.
This has come in the form of two prides we have seen in the last few days. The Mhangeni Pride, who came in from the North close to Little Bush Camp, after following a large herd of buffalo. They felt safe in an area that is foreign to them as they had brought with them their protectors who themselves have a fearsome reputation, the Majingilane males. Despite the recent death of the Hip Scar male, these last three Majingilanes bear the scars of war and have an aura about them. They are most certainly still a force to be reckoned with.
I was amazed as we witnessed the Mhangeni Pride bring down a large kudu cow and in true lion fashion at the dinner table, forgot all manners and ripped into the carcass and devoured it, along with the Majingilane males in a couple of hours. The noise was deafening and even after I left the sighting, the fighting over the scraps could be heard over the plains 800 meters away!
The next pride to push in from the North-Eastern sector was the Sparta Pride. Less of a threat to the Southern Pride with 3 adult females and 4 sub adult cubs, the Sparta’s have spent the last few days traversing the northern sector of the Southern Pride’s territory unopposed and unchallenged.
When they were found yesterday morning, they were lazing around in the middle of a large open plain showing little care or worry. The night before that, I was once again fortunate to see them hunting for 2 hours but sadly had no reward for them. One thing that struck me is the confidence and the presence this pride had as many of them walked through the long grasses with their tales aloft and curled signalling to all the other members of their whereabouts. I have seen this before but never by so many individuals, coupled with a setting sun, something to behold!
The roles of male lions are that of a protector – to walk the territorial boundaries demarcating an area where no other may enter – that this land is spoken for and that a desire to continue, may end in war. With the time away from their territory and the heavy summer rains of late, the Charleston males’ scent has faded away, lost in the wind and the waters. The door is firmly ajar and therefore permission to enter has been granted until they return.
Blog by Terry Ennever (Selati Camp Assistant Manager & Senior Ranger)
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