This morning, just as the sun greeted the savanna, an unknown coalition, seemingly hailing from Kruger, brought an insurrection against the Ndhzenga males. Before we give an account of what unfolded, we wish to set a disclaimer: this is a dynamic that is currently unfolding, and as a result, what we report is what we have observed and pieced together.
The Gowrie males are arguably one of, if not the, most successful coalition MalaMala and the Sabi Sands have seen in recent history. They have reigned supreme for more than half a decade; in which time they have successfully sired the next generations from five different prides.
If you’re one of those people that likes to while away hours of the day watching wildlife videos, it’s likely you have encountered the YouTube video that MalaMala posted on the 2nd of December 2021. If you are not, we suggest you watch it before you read any further...
In recent days, the soundtrack to life at MalaMala hasn’t been the “krit-trrrrr” of the returning Woodland Kingfisher, nor is it the “dee-dee-deederik” of the Diedrick Cuckoo, rather, it’s been the deep, bellowing “ohhhhffff” of lions roaring.
If you read the last blog on lions you may recall the statement, “for the most part, we like to think we have our finger on the pulse”. The events that have unfolded in the last few weeks may serve to prove this wrong.
On the morning of the 17th of October, several lions were found feeding on a buffalo carcass. While it is common to view lions feeding on an eviscerated bovid, the composition of the group and the events that unfolded in the days that followed left us scratching our heads....
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.