With things seemingly settling down in the South, and the new coalition of Sand River males looking set to inherit the Southern Pride kingdom from the Kruger male, it is anyone’s guess as to where the next threat to Majingilane dominance will come from. It has been almost two years since the Majingilane warded off the threat of this new coalition, but whereas the Sand River males are on the rise, it is quite possible that the Majingilane are about to enter a decline. Once this decline starts, it is often a slippery slope from which there is no coming back.
Things start snowballing, and within a few short months, there is the chance of the roars of this fearsome coalition being silenced in the Sabi Sands forever.
Have a look at this post from 2010 on the decline of another male lion. One can see that from April to October his decline was constant. And sad to witness. Magnificent beasts like male lions don’t deserve a death like this, at least in our minds. They should go out in a blaze of glory, carried out on their shields, their final roars of defiance still echoing through the night as they take their last breaths. Dying in battle like warriors of old is how it should be, not slowly wasting away, forced to eke out an existence by scavenging for the scraps left by superior animals.
I am painting a picture here, theorising on two possible outcomes for the Majingilane. One-by-one is how I see it eventually happening. Forced to spread themselves thin now, as has been discussed in recent weeks with their new territorial acquisitions in the west, I foresee a new coalition emerging from the rolling hills of the Kruger Park.
The Dark-maned male roars for his coalition. An answering roar from up the hill announced the presence of at least one more male, and moments later, the hip-scarred and missing canine males came marching out of the thickets.
Still all-powerful, but getting on in years, the Majingilane engage in nuzzling behaviour like this to reinforce their bond as a coalition. Still strong, still unified, it nevertheless seems likely that chinks will appear in their armour…
Younger, fitter, not worn down by years of long territorial patrols, the new pretenders to the throne will arrive in force, bellowing their intentions into the night sky. The Majingilane will be caught napping. The Hip-scar male will mostly be with the Sparta pride, the Dark-maned male with the Tsalalas, and the other two will be too far west to render any assistance. Hip-scar will be isolated, closest to the new threat as the Sparta pride venture closest to the Kruger park of all the Majingilane’s prides. Roaring for assistance, he will retreat, heading west to find his coalition, much like the much-vaunted Mapogo did once. But the new males will close in on his roars, forcing him into a corner, haunches to a thorn tree, lashing out with tooth and claw, fighting for his life. The rivals will be rushing in from different sides, and he will be forced to expose his flanks here and there, opening gaps for his assailants to assault. Weakened from wounds and against superior numbers, he will eventually succumb. And the Majingilane will be down to 3.
It is not hard to imagine where it goes from there. It may take awhile, and it may be any of the coalition who goes first, but eventually, as their strength fails and their decline marches on, the Majingilane will fall.
Tragedy for youngsters in any of the prides over which they rule, who will likely meet their deaths under the paws and jaws of the usurpers, but a natural part of the cycle of the bush.
No-one can foretell when it will happen. But the end will come.
It will come…
Written and Photographed by James Tyrrell