With winter looming it should come as no surprise that the topic of lion dynamics is taking centre stage. We have already seen early signs of territorial shifts / takeovers and on top of that we have been seeing A LOT of lions recently. 83 different individuals were viewed on the reserve in April!
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” – This quote is attributed to Roman philosopher, Seneca, and its essence is something that we as photographic safari rangers understand and deal with on a day to day basis. The challenge with wildlife photography is that we can’t tell the ‘models’ what to do and we don’t get any retakes. To make up for this we try to anticipate their next move and position ourselves accordingly.
The recent movements of our longest serving group of lions, the Styx pride, have raised many eyebrows here on MalaMala. We have been finding them in some rather unexpected places that are not only far away from their core territory but well within another pride's. More stress is the last thing that this pride needs after barely scraping through a tumultuous chapter in their history.
It appears that the Gowrie male lion coalition now has full control over the entire northern half of MalaMala Game Reserve. During the last year they’ve successfully ousted the Clarendon males, out-competed the Manyeleti males and out-intimidated the Avoca males, whilst keeping the mighty Mantimahle males at bay.
The dynamics within our lion population over the last year have been anything but stable. Many of us here have joked that a blog on the topic would require only one character, a question mark.
One of the great privileges of working and living in the African bush, especially at the likes of MalaMala, is that we’re granted the opportunity to spend long periods of time out in the field. These opportunities provide a platform of learning that no textbook or animal behavioural study can even begin to describe.
In April 2011, two male lions were born in the southern parts of MalaMala Game Reserve, in an area known as Charleston. These two young male lions were then aptly named according to the territory that their maternal pride held before them, which is why today they are referred to as the two male lions from the Charleston coalition.
MalaMala is just about the best place for wildlife photography. You’ll almost get a guarantee to see the Big 5, and that’s within a day or two! So I keep coming back, and there is always something to see and photograph.
Whilst enjoying a cup of coffee in the early morning before the game drive, the peaceful atmosphere on the deck of Sable Camp was shattered by the unmistakable sound of a buffalo bellowing in distress.