When it comes to lion pride sighting updates at Umkumbe Safari Lodge, we’re way overdue – just like that festive season credit card payment. We have some edge of the seat stuff coming your way, so hold your breath as we beguile you with the latest tales from our powerful big cat athletes. We’re skipping the leopard update today and going to focus entirely on those tawny beasts that patrol our traverse day in and day out, scent marking and contact calling as they confidently strut their stuff on their home ground.
We’ll kick-off with an update about the Kambula Pride of lions. These lionesses were previously referred to as the Mhangeni Breakaway females, and were eventually renamed after considerable time lapsed . It was realised that the females would not rejoin the rest of the Mhangeni lionesses and needed an identification of their own.
The tight-knit group of felines seem at ease with just about any male, with numerous consortships witnessed over the past month. Whether its local lions pushing boundaries, or even nomadic males wandering across in search of new territories; the Kambulas will mate with all and sundry.
The reason? It is within their genetic make-up to want to reproduce and increase their kinship among individuals. It’s hardly slim pickings on our traverse when it comes to burly male lions, so the options of males to sire cubs are endless. However, a lioness’s desire to procreate is not just about continuing their bloodline and creating genetic diversity – it’s also about preservation and survival.
It is speculated that the more males they mate with during oestrus, the harder it is to identify paternity which could lead to less aggressiveness and less chance of infanticide. Males that want to take over prides or mate with receptive females may kill off existing cubs to thwart the continuation of another’s bloodline.
So yes, the Kambula’s are most certainly doing the rounds. Towards the end of December, ranger Geoffrey sent through a few short clips of one of the Birmingham males mating with the Kambulas. Our guests not only enjoyed a lion sighting, but also witnessed the rather tormented affair of a big cat mating session. The Birmingham males have a chocolate colour mane that carpets their upper quarters, and they’re rather a heavyset coalition of 4 lions easily recognisable by their powerful bodies and distinct colouring.
The Avoca male lions are a coalition of 2 males that wandered over from the Avoca Pride in the southern Timbavati region. They have 3 younger siblings, but seem to be staking claim on land within the Sabi Sand. The Avocas discovered the available Kambulas and were subsequently spotted feeding on the remnants of a buffalo kill.
The Avocas weren’t the only males the Kambulas were sidling up to, and one of the legends and favourites of the area – Scar Nose from the Majingilanes was also spotted in their company. The Majingilanes have quite the legacy on our parts, and it appears that the rough and rowdy Scar Nose also wanted a piece of the action. With his leathery nose and clearly marked jaw, he certainly looks like a soldier of his territory.
Sparta Lions were the apple of the Avoca’s eye towards mid last year, but the Avocas appear to have a new flavour of the month which is the Kambulas. The Sparta lionesses were spotted at a local waterhole replenishing their thirst.
The Matshipiri male lions, our resident warlords, have been involved in a number of scuffles over the past year and bear the battle scars as proof. There are now 2 Matshipiri males that are often spotted with the Kambula females, and they’ve been the longstanding companions of this pride of lionesses.
Our sightings of these various prides, groups and coalitions have taken place over the past 3 weeks. There’s clearly plenty of lion activity on Umkumbe’s traverse, adding to already confusing lion activity. What we do know is that the Kambulas are clearly needing to procreate.
Birmingham Male Lions
Kambulas and Matshipiris
Scar Nose with Kambulas