A video of the Mohlabetsi male lion coalition taken by one of the Pondoro Game Lodge guides during a wildlife safari drive early morning on the 27th of March 2016. Young male lions usually get chased away from the pride by their fathers sometime between reaching 2 -4 years of age. This usually happens as soon as their fathers start seeing them as a threat to their dominance. Life for these outcasts are extremely tough and few survive to adulthood. They live on the fringes of their natal pride’s territory evading the territorial male lions while trying to find food and fed themselves. This is an arduous task as hunting with very little hunting experience is hard and they often are not be in the best physical condition. Their chances of survival improve exponentially if accompanied by brothers or other young males of similar age. Coalitions are now formed and forged that will last for the rest of their lives. It is also the only time that young males will allow strangers to join their group as there is a direct correlation between the size and strength of the coalition.
These young males will be big and strong enough to start looking at acquiring a territory of their own at about 5 years of age, if fortunate enough to survive that long. The Mohlabetsi male, who is the oldest male in this video, seems to have thrown the rule book out of the window with first splitting from this coalition brother Kudyela when he took control of the Mohlabetsi pride’s territory, while Kudyela got a territory and pride of his own further to the west. The Mohlabetsi male then allowed an unrelated young male lion of roughly 2 years old to stay with the Mohlabetsi pride and he eventually formed a coalition with this youngster. He then went a step further and seem to have allowed his own sons to stay as well, prolonging his reign as the differences in age amongst this male lion coalition should provide protection from rival males even he gets older.
The elaborate greeting ceremony shown on this video of the lions rubbing their heads helps to reinforce the bond between the males and shows the affinity and goodwill that the bigger male have for his younger partners.