We’re inundated with reports of leopard sightings on the Umkumbe traverse, which is no surprise given that the Sabi Sand is a world-renown hotspot for leopards. Leopards are drawn to the area because of the easy access to water, availability of prey and numerous drainage lines. Bordering on the Kruger National Park also means lone leopards wander across in search of potentially new territories. Given the abundance of leopards, you’d assume there’s less of a lion presence. But in the midst of the rosette patterned mayhem, the lions dwell. During the course of the week, the lions of the Sabi Sand graced us with their powerful presence.
We’re still reeling in shock from the death of one of the Sparta females and having bore witness to the showdown of the year (well, thus far), so we were quite content to observe the lions going about their textbook behaviour; which includes anything from sleeping to making kills, mating and patrolling aggressively. And, as luck would have it, this is just what we observed during the course of the week – average lion behaviour! The lion dynamics are by no means boring and have provided rather volatile dynamics as of recently.
During our #livebushfeed session on Wednesday evening, lodge owner Herman fed through a sighting of two unknown male lions relaxing in a dry part of the riverbed. Nomadic males often cross over into new territories in search of females to mate with and prides to take-over. Naturally, a male lion would want their own bloodline and genetics to be continued. The urge to mate is strong and testosterone fuelled males may even engage in infanticide, which sends females back into oestrus and destroys the bloodline of other males.
These two weren’t skittish or fearful of other forces at work, which leads us to believe they might be the offspring or related to other dominant males in the area. Could they be the offspring of the Charleston males? Time will tell.
If spotting the rather king-like lions wasn’t enough, Kyle went on to find the Mhangeni Breakaways (Kambula Pride) just enjoying their surrounds. This sisterhood of lionesses comprises 6 beauties. Don’t be mistaken by their graceful ways, these protective and forceful killers are muscling in on a variety of territories. Ranger Kyle managed to capture a few rare moments with these females while they were own the move.
All in all, a rather peaceful and pleasant lion sighting experience. We’re ready for more drama now though…