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Friday, 16 March 2012

The End Of An Era


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Today saw the end of the reign of the Mapogo coalition as the dominant lions in our area. The four males of the Southern or Selati coalition have reduced the once mighty coalition to a partnership of two old men. This morning a fierce battle took place between the two coalitions, the four young males emerging victorious, fatally wounding the Mapogo Male known variously as Mohawk, Mr.T or SaTan. The two remaining Mapogo fled east all but giving up their territory to the new males. It seems that Mr.T stood his ground as the four younger males approached, giving the two older males a chance to escape, whether this was the intention is debatable but many would like to see it that way, a noble end to perhaps the most notorious anti-hero of the coalition.
It was Mr.T that was known for his aggression towards other lions, and he had a reputation for killing cubs too. Some of his reputation was deserved but mostly he was misunderstood. It is true that he was a killer, but all lions are. The coalition as a whole was responsible for the deaths of many lions in the early years of their takeover but Mr.T seemed to be singled out due to his appearance, his short Mohawk mane and a seemingly broken nose made him look more of a fighter than the others. Over the years his face became a mass of battle scars, but many of those scars were from fighting with other members of the coalition over food and mating rights. For a couple of years the six males split into two groups, one of four and one of two, meeting irregularly in the middle of the territory. Mr.T and his brother Kinky Tail were the two that stayed in the eastern part of the territory and were the first to come across a challenge from new males – the Majingalane coalition. Brutal images of the two Mapogo attacking  and fatally wounding an isolated member of the new coalition further enhanced Mr.T’s brutal reputation. Later the same day when the four remaining Majingalanes fought back it was Mr.T that fled leaving his brother to be killed and eaten.
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Returning to the west and joining with the four remaining coalition members Mr.T managed to take the coalition into another battle with the Majingalane males, with a disastrous outcome – only four of the five males returned, one with serious injuries and the eastern territory was lost.
During Mr.T’s absence from the west, the other Mapogo males had taken over a new pride – the Ximhungwe pride. A number of cubs had been born into the pride since the takeover but as Mr.T had not been with the other coalition members at the time he did not recognise the cubs as family and instinctively began to wipe them out. This again enhanced his brutal reputation, yet he was only following his instincts in order to ensure that the next generation of the Ximhungwe pride would have the blood of the Mapogo coalition running through their veins, there was no way for him to be sure that the cubs at the time already were of the Mapogo bloodline.
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Seemingly content in a smaller portion of their territory the four remaining Mapogo started to build on their dominance of the Ximhungwe pride until one day one of them decided to go for a walk in a north-easterly direction towards their old territory, and never returned.
Down to three, the Mapogo coalition seldom left the western sector of the reserve and Mr.T seemed to settle down in his old age. There was no reason for the Majingalanes to head west, as they were content with their takeover in the east. The three old males seemed to be heading for an easy retirement until the arrival of the four young Southern Males.
At first the new males were wary of the old warriors and were even chased out of the area by them on one occasion. As they became bolder they pushed further west, but still left an unfinished buffalo kill to the vultures and hyenas when they heard the roars of the Mapogos getting closer.
It took a lioness of the Ximhungwe pride to build their confidence, she came into oestrus at a time that the Mapogos were far from the pride on a buffalo kill, hearing the roars of the new males she headed towards them to mate. Finding a female to mate with brought the younger males closer to Mapogo controlled territory and it was not long before there was a confrontation between the two coalitions.
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The first confrontation ended with all seven males walking away, but the Mapogo looked like a beaten trio, one had narrowly avoided serious injury and the three took some time to recuperate. The Southern males used the time that the Mapogo were inactive to explore the territory and heal from the minor cuts and scratches they had sustained themselves. Gradually the distance between the two coalitions was reduced and in the early hours of this morning the Southern males laid claim to the west.
The two remaining Mapogo will probably now become nomadic, avoiding the larger coalitions, it is unlikely we will see much of them now.
So it is a sad day as we mourn the passing of a well known lion, yet an exciting day as a new area has begun – The King Is Dead, Long Live The New Kings!