A recent video taken by Pondoro guide Rul of 4 of the Mohlabetsi male lion coalition members greeting each other by rubbing their heads after spending the whole day resting and sleeping. A male lion called Blondie is the bigger one of the four. The coalition is 8 strong although they are seldom all seen together.

I still remember the arrival of two lions, we later called Big Boy and Mazinyo, about 13 years ago as if yesterday. They were originally known as the Klaserie males and were about 5 years old. Mazinyo eventually died of malnutrition after suffering a broken jaw from either a giraffe or zebra kick. Their reign of 9 years finally ended with the demise of Big Boy shortly thereafter. Most of their male offspring went east to Klaserie never to be seen again in this part of the world. Big Boy had a very short temper and competition was not tolerated meaning that young males were chased away as soon as they were deemed a threat.

The last group of sons numbering five did not scare of the old male, but interestingly allowed him to stay without killing or chasing him off. One young male got hit by a car on our boundary fence and 2 others crossed the river going north. The Mohlabetsi male and his brother Kudyela/Duma went east and returned after an absence of 3 -4 months. The journey caused a rift in their friendship and they never joined forces again with the Mohlabetsi male taking over the Mohlabetsi pride and Kudyela/Duma joining his natal pride.

The Mohlabetsi male is different to any male I have ever known. He allowed a skittish and very nervous young male (Blondie) of about 2 years old to stay while settling with the Mohlabetsi pride. He then went went one step further and never chased his 6 young sons away as would normally be done. The eventual outcome of this behavior is a very strong coalition of eight males. They are already expanding their territory and the first casualty was Kudyela who disappeared only to rise like Lazarus from the dead by re-appearing in Klaserie.

The Singwe males were next to feel the heat as one disappeared with a very thin and malnourished male surviving. The young River pride males and Impalabos male are also under pressure and only time will tell how this will play out.

We are in the meantime treated to great sightings of the Mohlabetsi male lion coalition as they continue to dominate the western and central parts of Balule Nature reserve.

Robbie Prehn