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Thursday, 22 March 2012

A New Era Begins: Meet The Selati Male Lions

The Selati Males are a coalition of four lions born into the Southern Pride in 2007 and 2008 and sired by the Golf Course males. When they first left their maternal pride there were five males but their wanderings brought them into the territory of the Majingalane males where a fight between the two coalitions resulted in one of the younger Selati males being fatally wounded. The four males needed to find a place to grow and avoid contact with the Majingalanes and that saw them pushing towards the western section of the reserve, a place that they had been previously as youngsters when the pride was spending time trailing the buffalo herd. It was a slow approach, the young males were accomplished buffalo hunters and following the big herd and building themselves up was the primary goal at the time. At this time the young Othawa pride had also taken a liking to the buffalo herd and inevitably the two groups met, this time it was the Selati males that emerged as the victors, killing the youngest male of the pride. The victory proved to be short lived as the Mapogo coalition somehow got wind of the new males on the edges of their territory and chased them back south.
It would be a while before we heard of the Selati males in the west again, but eventually they did return, again following the big buffalo herd. At the same tome two of the Mapogo males were in the same general area, also looking for the buffalo, speculation was rife as to what would happen if the four young males bumped into the two big old males - would numbers or experience win the day? In the end there was no confrontation, both sets of males making a kill a few kilometres apart. The two mapogos only took down a calf, whilst the Selati boys had an adult, this meant that the two older males finished first and began patrolling, straight towards the younger males. It seems that upon hearing the roars of the Mapogo getting closer, the Selati males left their buffalo kill and moved briskly in the opposite direction, the older males never even knew they were there and another conflict had been avoided.
Again it would be a couple of months before the Selati males were heard of in the west, but the next time they were close things were beginning to change. One of the lionesses from the Ximhungwe pride had come into oestrus and was looking for a mate. The three Mapogo were a long distance from the pride with a buffalo kill and she did not know where they were. The Selati males were roaring to her east and following her urge to find a mate she went towards the position where she would be sure to find a male. Mating occurred with one or more of the Selati males and she returned to the pride a few days later, just as the Mapogo had finished their kill. The Mapogo would have had no idea she had mated with rival males so there would be no problems with any eventual cubs.
The Selati males had now received a confidence boost, the lure of females brought them further west once more, again at a time when the ruling Mapogo coalition were indisposed, this time with two buffalo kills between the three of them. The Selati males were patrolling and marking late one evening and were seen heading in the general direction of where the older males were feeding.
The next morning the four young males were found looking very pleased with themselves only a short distance away from where the Mapogo coalition had been feeding, the three Mapogo were found shortly after, heading away from the area, one of the males was badly beaten. It seemed that the Selati males had begun a serious attempt to takeover the Mapogo territory.
Whilst the Mapogo males stayed quiet in the southern reaches of their territory, the Selati males began to explore the northern areas and made themselves a buffalo kill, the takeover was on pause whilst they fed.
At around this time the Ximhungwe lioness came back into oestrus, and again the Mapogos were quiet whilst the Selati males were roaring, having finished feeding. Again the lionesses hormones took her to the younger males as her pride males were inactive. A day or two later the Mapogos did begin to advertise their presence and the lioness hurriedly left the young males to continue mating with the males she was more familiar with.
The 4 Selati males, knowing the position of the older males, began to further explore the northern areas before becoming hungry and returning south to look for the buffalo herd. The mapogos again took down a pair of buffalo, close to the spot where the previous double kill occurred. The Selati males were at this time only a maximum of two kilometres away and it seemed another fight was on the cards.
To begin with, nothing happened, the two coalitions missed each other. Then on the morning of the 16th of March they met...
The ensuing battle resulted in two of the Mapogo heading east to the far edge of their territory and one of them lying dead on the side of the road, tattered torn and broken. The four Selati males had some superficial scratches and seemingly a new territory.
In the days since the fight the Selati males have been up and down the western section, making, calling and generally establishing themselves as the new owners of the area. they still have to take over the two resident prides (Othawa and Ximhungwe) and there is till the possibility that the remaining two Mapogo males may try to fight back.
The coming months will be an interesting time for the local lion population as well as for those that follow the developments, already the tracks of the remaining two Mapogo males have been seen in the area again, and the one of the Selati males got a bit of a hiding from the lionesses of the Ximhunwe pride when he came too close this morning!