A Roaring Start To The Morning
Driving down the Doispane, River Road junction 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 midmorning and being the only vehicle onsite, made the sighting that much more pleasurable observing these males go about their casual business scent-marking the bushes near the road.
Males will form very close bonds within the coalition, often grooming one another and rubbing their heads against each other is a sign of submission and “affection”. It is common also 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. I believe it’s because they know that they will only be hurting themselves in the long run as they need one another for a more successful survival rate.
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 relax oblivious environment following the 4 Nwatwitshaka/Ndhzenga males, the next moment everyone hears loud roars echoing from behind, both the vehicle and the lions stop dead in the tracks, heads turned.
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 trouble as it wasn’t their territory, kicking up dust as they began to run away and put distance between themselves and trouble being hot on their tails! 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 right to them!
Lions can reach speeds of up to 45-60km/h and with the lions running between the bushes made it a little difficult for Marten to keep up, however they caught up to the Nwatwitshaka/Ndhzenga males further down the road with one of them missing.
Until next time.