A Roaring Start To The Morning

Driving down the Doispane, and then taking the link on to River Road in the Kruger National Park, our guide Marten and guests came across 4 adolescent nomad male lions known as the Nwatwitshaka/Ndhzenga males. It is usual for males to form a coalition once kicked out the pride upon reaching puberty.

As it was a beautiful sunny mid-morning and being the only vehicle on the sight, made the sighting that much more pleasurable observing these males go about their casual business of scent marking the bushes near the road.  Males will form very close bonds within the coalition, often grooming one another and running their heads against each other in a sign of submission and “affection”. It is common to see males mounting each other in a display of dominating behaviour but the reason why male lions do it remains a mystery as there is no hierarchy in a coalition where males seldomly clash with each other.

Dominant male lions cover large distances while on patrol, scent marking and defending their territory from other males like these nomadic males.  One can only take a guess what the intentions were of the 4 Nwatwitshaka/Ndhzenga males as these were very brave to make such moves, was it purely instinctual? Did they think this territory was no mans’ land for them to claim? Or were they aware the territory was taken and wanted to challenge the current dominate males?

From being in a completely relaxed oblivious environment still following the 4 adolescent males, the next moment everyone hears loud roars coming from behind, both us and the lions stops dead in our tracks, heads turned.

Suddenly two adult male lions known as the Southern Avoca Males appeared, following the scent marks left by the 4 Nwatwitshaka/Ndhzenga males which led them right to them!

Judging by the faces and body language of the 4 adolescent males, hearing the presence of other lions created a whole different atmosphere. They knew they were in some serious trouble as it clearly wasn’t their territory. Kicking up a dust storm as they began to ran with their tails between their legs in fear of their lives, they quickly put distance between themselves and the trouble being hot on their tails!

Lions are able to reach speeds of up to 45-60km/h and running between the bushes made it a little difficult for Marten to keep up, however when they caught up to the Nwatwitshaka/Ndhzenga males further down the road with one of them missing.

Was it just another day in the bush? Well not for any of us. But in the African bush, it’s survival of the fittest.

The Kruger National Park never ceases to amaze.

Until next time.