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Ranger’s Blog

A Safari With Soul
7 Jun

The Lions of Tintswalo: The Drama Continues

As always, the lions’ dynamics at Tintswalo are like a great soap opera unfolding in the greater Kruger National Park wilderness.

Just as you think you are on top of the story, something else changes—a new male lion, a new set of cubs—that upsets the equilibrium, causing a ripple effect through the reserve.

In order to best understand the current situation, let’s lay out the latest summary of all the resident lions in the Manyeleti and how they are living together in the Greater Kruger National Park. A while back, we wrote an introduction to the Lions of Tintswalo which gave a background to the various prides. But things have changed (constant change is just a state of affairs with lions) and it’s time for an update on the resident prides, new arrivals and dramatic moments over the last few months.

 

Mbiri Pride

Anyone who has visited Tintswalo in the last few years would have enjoyed the company of the resident Mbiri Pride. At 12 lions in total (4 lionesses, 7 cubs and a sub-adult), they are the largest and most respected pride on the property and you can’t but sit in awe when you encounter them in the bush.

Unfortunately, they are still recovering from the tragedy that befell their pride a few months ago when the Avoca Males came into the area and killed a number of their cubs.

The pride was going from strength to strength, and it seemed like nothing could stop them. But the painful death of Sizanani, the Legend of the Manyeleti, caused a vacuum in the bush, and made room for new males to come into the area. Sizanani’s brother’s (Skorro) power began to fade and a new set of dominant males made their way into the area—and these came in the form of the Avoca Coalition of males.

 

One night in February, the males attacked the Mbiri Pride. It must have been a terrifying scene as the males tore into the pride, and killed six of the cubs. Thankfully, 6 of the cubs survived the onslaught and they are alive and well and growing quickly.

Shortly after, the Mibiri Pride managed to bring down a big giraffe, which must have been an unbelievable scene. We are not sure how, but the Avoca males managed to find the kill, and we thought it was all over for the rest of the cubs. Surely the Avoca males would want to take out the remaining cubs? But, to our amazement, the males arrived at the giraffe carcass and proceeded to eat right beside the cubs—sharing a meal with the siblings of those cubs that they had slaughtered not long before.

All the lion textbooks would tell you that male lions would never tolerate the cubs born from another male, and yet here they were, eating side by side. Thankfully, it looks like the remaining six Mbiri cubs are going to make it after all and will go on to make their mark in the Manyeleti.

The Avoca/Giraffe Males

The three Avoca Males are now the resident dominant males in the Tintswalo area, and they are making their presence felt all over the reserve. We recently had the pleasure of hearing one of the males roaring, announcing his territorial supremacy over the area, and the spine-chilling sound is impossible to forget— the true sound of a king in full reign.

Interestingly, one of the Avoca males is now mating with one of the Nharu females, so it won’t be long until that pride welcome a new set of cubs in the area and the males enjoy the benefits of two separate sets of females.

The Nharu Pride

The Nharu Pride is spending much of their time in the south of the reserve. In some ways, they are biding their time, waiting to become one of the great forces in the Manyeleti.

The recent giraffe kill was the scene of another fascinating behaviour. The entire Nharu pride appeared at the kill and began to feast at the same carcass. This was an extremely strange occurrence, seeing as lion prides almost never mix. Both males and females are highly territorial and don’t tolerate other encroaching prides. Perhaps lions are happy to share very big kills and they have an understanding that if there is enough meat going around—then all can feast.

In the end, there were 18 lions on the carcass, and the giraffe kill seemed to become the central point for all the Lions of Tintswalo.

The Nharu pride currently has four big young male lions who are going to start causing some trouble in the years to come. They may well form a powerful coalition and vie for territory in the Manyeleti. Let’s see!

The Thanda Impi Males

Skorro, the last of the famous Thanda Impi Males, was seen in Kruger mating with one of the resident females in the Mshlowati concession in Kruger. With the death of his legendary brother, Sizanani, perhaps he was nursing his broken heart. He has been quiet… when lions are alone they will stop calling. If or when he becomes dominant again, we might hear his roars echo across the Manyeleti once again.

All in all, the Lions of Tintswalo are as enthralling, fascinating, and amazing as ever, and it’s a real privilege to be able to follow their ongoing dramas. Every day, when we head out for a game drive, we truly never know what will happen out in the bush. We’ve had so much feedback from past guests around the world who love to connect with the Lions of Tintswalo and follow the story, and we promise to keep you updated!