History of the Mighty Mapogo Male Lions – by Brett Thomson

Paddy Hagelthorn has spent the last 26 years in South African private game reserves, conducting safaris, managing lodges and training rangers, and he is currently in a senior position at Savanna Lodge in the Sabi Sand. He has been lucky enough to witness the rise and fall of the Mighty Mapogo.

The Mighty Mapogo at Mala Mala

The Mighty Mapogo at Mala Mala

 

“This coalition originated from Mala Mala from what I believe was called the “Eyrefield Pride” and moved into the Western Section in 2004. In their quest to dominate this area, they killed approximately 40 other lions which included lots of cubs, females and adult males. Once they had established themselves, the coalition split and two took over the Londolozi area coming into the Singita area, whilst the other four took over the Singita and Western block area. In 2007 a new coalition moved down from the North into the Londolozi area and in the ensuing battles, one of the five in the new coalition was killed, as well as one of the two Mapogo. The one remaining Mapogo then returned to the Western block to join up with the other four of the coalition. He had not been part of the breeding of the cubs in the Western area, so when he arrived back he proceeded to kill all the cubs in the Western block. This earned him the nickname of Satan. Over the next three years, two of the coalition just disappeared and we have no idea what happened to them. The remaining three continued to dominate the Singita/Western Block area until last month when the Southern Pride, a pride of originally five males, made their move to establish territory in Singita/Western Block area. One of the Southern pride was killed eighteen months ago by the Shingalana pride that had taken over the dominancy at Londolozi.

The Mapogo coalition drinking at Leopard Hills

The Mapogo coalition drinking at Leopard Hills – image by Hannes Kruger

 

About four weeks ago, the Southern pride had a clash with the Mapogo and it was evident that they had the upper hand, as the Mapogo ran from them. However, the Mapogo returned to the Savanna property, pursuing the herds of buffalo that they had learnt to live off and it was after one of these kills that the Southern pride located the Mapogo again. From what we can ascertain, they split up the Mapogo and went in pursuit of Satan whom they caught and killed on Mackenzie cutline near our western boundary. It was clear that this magnificent animal was no match for the four young intruders and they paralysed him by biting through the spine and, over the next hour and a half, proceeded to tear him apart. The last two remaining Mapogo went east, as far as we know, and it was rumoured that they have gone down to Dudley where they will meet up with the controlling coalition in that area. I doubt whether we will see these two again, but whatever happens, their days are numbered. However, they have had a good run. They lived longer than most male lions do, especially with the adversity of having TB, and it was an encouraging sign to see that they have lived to full term, despite this debilitating disease.

The new males are now busy hunting down the Ximungwe pride and the Ottawa females where the inevitable will happen and the four cubs in each of these prides will be killed.”

Also see http://blog.sunsafaris.com/2012/11/15/the-mapogo-lions-heritage-by-courteney-blunden/

Young Mapogo Males

Young Mapogo Males – image by Rudi Hulshof

Some really mean looking Mapogo lions!

Some really mean looking Mapogo lions! Image taken at Savanna

 

 

Author: Brett Thomson

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47 Comments

  1. During the time that I was Head of Anti Poaching in the Sabi Sands and did problem animal control in the entire reserve, I counted more than 100 other lions killed by the Mapogo’s. I myself had to shoot 13 lions who’s backs were broken by the Mapogos and left to die a horrible death. One such lion had to be shot in Exeter River Lodge camp as he was lying on the footpath leading to a guest room.

    Myself and Dr Jonathan Swart was probably the first in the Western Sector to encounter the Mapogo’s as we walked into them one evening when we were tracking pangolin armed with nothing but tourches and a telemitry.

    I witnessed the Mapogo’s kill a female on Singita near Exeter Portion 5 after she was thought not to be sumissive enough to the Mapogo’s. Once she was killed, one of the Mapogo’s mated with her and then they started feeding on her. This was also witnessed by Ds Jurgens De Jager from the NG Church i White River as him and his daughter accompanied me that evening.

    I also witnessed the Mapogo’s kill an entire pride of lions on Picanini Utha. I can not remember howmany lions were in the pride. They went out to kill the cubs but the females tried to protect the cubs and they were killed as well.

    On more than one occassion the Sand River Pride were driven out of the Sabi Sands by the Mapogo’s. 5 Were shot in April 2006 and the rest of the Sand River Pride were shot in January 2009 after they were driven out by the Mapogos and started feeding on cattle in Dumphries Village.

    The Mapogos brought me many hours of joy as they were great males.

    I was lucky to be able to dart all of them and to inoculate them against Rabies when there was an outbreak of the disease in and arround the Sabi Sands from November 2007 to May 2009.

    Andrew Schoeman made a great video of the Mapogo’s intimidating a Hippo untill it got out of the water at Othawa Causeway where they caught it.

    They also caught a Rhino near Robsons dam.

    They may be gone but their memories live on!

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    • Dear Williem,

      What a great story, and I was wondering if you could contact me. My book is ready to be released and wonderd if you would co sign the 1st addition. Its your turn to write your book, as we will all be eager to read it.r

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      • Would be a pleasure to do that. Just let me know where when and how and I will be there!

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    • Wow,this is a great story!How did you manage encountering the Mapogo one evening armed with nothing but tourches and a telemitry.Were you on foot?Then you say one of the Mapogo’s mated with the female they had killed!Isn’t that abnormal?I have never heard of that!Lastly where can i get to view this Andrew Schoeman’s video of the Mapogo intimidating a hippo getting out of the water at Othawa causeway?

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    • There was absolutely no reason to let KINKY TALE and MR. T to be killed by those other lions.This should have been prevented. Shame on the people who let this happen.

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      • i agree i could not finish watching it made me sick i do not understand how you could just watch

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        • I agree the HORRIFIC seen of that lion being killed like that should have not been shown on television . I saw this episode in NAT GEO WILD ” lion brawl”.
          And it was TOO MUCH for me to watch I had never seen lions n this way , although I know this is a way of life for them but never expected to actually see this on tv. And the people filming this ! How could they sit by and do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING , I mean they were in vehicles couldn’t they have blowed their horns and then killed the lion who was being EATEN ALIVE . UGH !!

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  2. Thanks for sharing the above Willem – makes for incredible reading!

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  3. Hey Willem, great right up, but some of the facts are not really spot on…I just want to shed some light on how the account really occured, and I purely want to help with the accuracy of the account here given and add something to the memory of the Mapogo. The South pride males were originally five…one of their no. was killed by the Majingilane males after they took over Eastern sector(Londolozi and Mala Mala mainly) from the two Mapogos, killing the one male known as Kinky tail, and driving his brother Satan/Mr.T into western sector as you stated. The South pride male was not killed by the Shingalana pride, and although young, apparently he put up a brave fight before he was mauled to death by the Majingilanes. When Mr.T returned to Western sector, he roused his brothers and led them east to challenge the four Majingilanes.

    He himself had participated in the killing of the fifth Majingilane, with his brother Kinky-Tail, and when he and his four brothers met the Majingilane somewhere in Ottawa
    afterwards(I think…) another Mapogo fell in battle…the one who they called Rasta. Another Mapogo called Pretty Boy had a spine injury inflicted by the Majingilane, and the Mapogos returned to Western sector defeated. They never challenged the Majingilane again. By now, alot of cub killing by Satan had already happened, I’m sure…and for a while things were stable for the males. But some time after, the Snip Tail Mapogo went wandering into Eastern sector and never returned.

    The males stayed in western sector for a long time, with no other males eyeing their territory or challenging their dominance, but all the while, in southern Londolozi the South pride young males, now down to four after the Majingilane attack, were growing and getting stronger and more confident. Surrounded by the strong Majingilane to the east, and the KNP coalition to the south, and to the North, the killer Mapogos, we all thought the young males in a tight position and would have to leave the reserve and establish dominance elsewhere. this all changed when a female from the Ximunghwe pride, long dominated by the Mapogos, met the four young males in Singita.

    some mating occured, and the series of events that would set about the end of Mapogo rule in Western sector were set in motion. Cozing up to the females of the Ximunghwe pride, the young males made a buffalo kill in Western sector. The three remain Mapogo found them…and from merely roaring forced the young males of their kill and scampering for safety. But then the South pride males met a Ximunghwe lioness again, and mating occured…and this was the eve of the end for the Mapogo males as a dominant presence in the Sabi Sand. bursting with new confidence and pumped with testosterone the South males probed deep into Mapogo territory, exploring the landscape and discovering the prides (Ximunghwe and Ottawa). All the while the Mapogo were deep in the south of their territory in Savanna on a buffalo kill and had stopped behaving territorially( i.e roaring, scent marking) the first sign of their growing lack of confidence. The once mighty unchallenged Mapogo were now old, battle scarred warlords, and the end of their dominance had come. When the 4 South pride males, now strong, full of confidence and in their prime…met the 3 remaining old Mapogo on Savanna, the Satan male was killed. His two brothers fled south, and almost left the reserve, and I believe they are still there (Pretty Boy and Makhulu). This fight occured in early 2012..and the KInky tail male died in June 2010, not 2007. further more the picture “Mapogo fighting” os not of Mapogo, but actually features two of the Majingilane coalition.

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    • Thanks a lot Verney,
      So I uinderstand there was a crucial fight between 5 Mapogo’s and 4 Majingilanes somewhere second half of 2010, right? And the 4 Majingilanes won the battle. That is fascinating.
      Has anybody witnessed this fight?
      Thanks for yo0ur reply,
      DHiradj.

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    • Thank you all for all the information I’ve just read about the Mapogos, I was wondering if any of you are planning on writing a book about the full life history of this coalition..like from birth to death? I hope so…animals have never ever amazed me more then these Mapogo Males. What interests me most was their behavior and loyalty to one another. Maybe “Man” can learn a thing or two from them, no sarcasm intended. Thank you again for sharing all your stories and keep them coming.

      Marnie

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    • Hi Verney, Aquavision TV Productions is interested in interviewing you about the Mapogo Lions. If you’re interested contact me at Christie@aquavision.co.za.
      Christie
      Production Manager – Aquavision

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  4. Hi Verney

    Thanks for the above – all details welcome!

    Regards
    Brett

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  5. Thanks for the reply Verney but what you described happened long after what I have described and by that time I had already left the sands and can not comment on that.

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  6. So sorry Mr. Botha!!! My comment was intended for the main article and I meant to direct it to Brett Thomson. I got to know the Mapogo when their era had begun to come to an end, and I envy how you had such a close and personal experience with each of them…Im sure its a great privilege to have seen them and experienced their life stories as you did:)!

    Hi Mr. Thomson, you’re welcome…I love all lions, and in particular those in the Sabi Sand Reserve.I’m just glad that the Mapogo will be remembered (and respected) as one the most notorious coalitions to ever walk the Sabi Sand Wildtuin…they were truly memorable, and I hope Makhulu and Bent Spine(Pretty Boy), the last surviving members, will have more peaceful deaths as compared to their brothers.

    Kind regards, Verney.

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  7. I just thought I should post out of general interest; the Ximunghwe are still on the run I reckon and last we checked, at least three of the four cubs are still alive and well (a great achievement on the part of their mothers)…the death of the Satan/Mr T Mapogo in a battle against the Southern Males can be found at the following URL (videos may be graphic): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7Sq-SJmd5Y (note the characteristic broken nose of the Satan Mapogo) The two last Mapogo were seen far south of their old domain, in Sabi Sabi reserve and around Paul Kruger gate in the KNP( Kruger National Park) and at the typing of this comment, their whereabouts are unknown. The three Ottawa lionesses have indeed lost all their cubs to the Southern Males, and have been observed mating with the new coalition.

    The Mapogo have relatively few offspring remaining; 4 lionesses belonging to the Tsalala pride (fathered by Satan or Kinky-Tail) found on Londolozi and Chitwa Chitwa, 2 independent young males from the Ottawa pride, and the surviving Ximungwe cubs (who’s fate still hangs in the balance…)…I hope I have not left any out. The Ottawa males have disappeared and their whereabouts are also unknown…:(, but the Tsalala females are doing very well and have been observed mating, for the first time, with members of the Majingilane coalition (late may 2012, I think) . many say that the Mapogo should have had many more cubs, and due to their high levels aggression killed off significant amounts of their cubs during inter-coalition disputes. They were certainly a very volatile set of lions, but this notion is still up for debate.

    the video with the death of Kinky-Tail Mapogo male at the hands of the four Majingilane can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZH6s31VAfjI and the death of the fifth Majingilane at the hands of Mr. T and Kinky-Tail Mapogos can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aA8YiZrYBg0, and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xYUdDa4n1ow .these two events occured almost within twenty four hours of each other and threw the entire lion dynamic of the Sands into utter turmoil. Stability however, under Majingilane rule, has been established and we hope the South males do the same in Western Sector.

    Hope this all helps!

    Kind regards, Verney.

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    • Hi Verney?Please keep me posted on the latest on the majingilanes and mapogo coalitions.Good day

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  8. Hey Tim, why don’t you join “Lions of Sabi Sands” group on facebook…we have great discussions on all the lions on Sabi Sands there, and occasionally we discuss about the Mapogos. Makhulu pitched up in Sabi Sabi game reserve, close to the Sabie River in the far south of Sabi Sand…one of the last remaining Mapogo males, not too long ago close to the end of June. He is doing well. I did not get any info on His brother; Pretty Boy, but am sure both lions are still keeping out of trouble…:)

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  9. The last paragraph was my understanding of how Mr. T, and tragically Kinky Tail as well, all within twenty four hours of killing a female, allegedly, that drew out the brothers coming for the Mapagos with a look of utter determination, confidence and , well…..pride.

    I have been searching up and down the internet portals, glancing in there, reading this, and then that, and there are a few versions but your last paragraph there, Verney, was a great synopsis and the dramatic filming was a blessing to have for posterity and the tale of the great Mapagos but also as a woman who witnessed it said, was one of the most horrific things she had ever witnessed with sounds unlike any on this earth.
    We know we shouldn’t attach to the wild around us in the way of almost making them objects of pet affection…but we do, don’t we, and we name them, and then when they are gone….it’s painful.
    Ah, but they were a magnificent bunch, a real butch cassidy and the sundance kid at their best, but they were also undeniably aggressive and violent, even killing their own offspring in the territorial squabbles within the domain.

    The fact that the shots of the fights were lengthy and uninterrupted, except for editing….which tells me there was less opportunity to compose a narrative out of a pastiche of various lions, which we’ve all seen, sometimes laughably on ‘nature shows’ in search of a cohesive, often unrealistic narrative. Or any narrative at all to justify the shooting expense!
    But of the Lion fights with the death of Kinky Tail and Mr. T, I saw one part that I really thought was just too morbidly gruesome in terms of body mutilation and so forth….I’m glad Ive not seen it again.

    They were a great, great pride.
    I grew attached.
    And I’ve taken to calling the new bunch a “rather ugly bunch” I’d sniff looking at the pictures.

    All too human….

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  10. Typo.
    It should have read: The last paragraph was my understanding of how Mr. T, and tragically Kinky Tail as well, [DIED], all within twenty four hours of killing a female, allegedly, that drew out the brothers coming for the Mapagos with a look of utter determination, confidence and , well…..pride.

    Probably should have added as well that the fate of the other members of Mapago gets various interpretations though sightings and stories of them down south….or just plain disappearing, are most common. Others discuss how at least one was still surviving.

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  11. Having only recently discovered the story of the Mapogos vs Majingalanes on the Internet, it would seem that the two dominant coalitions today would be the Majingalanes and the souther Selati coalition who disposed of Mr. T. I’m curious if there has ever been any interaction between these two coalitions as it would seem to be the logical new rivalry. Without knowing much about the geography of the area, both groups would appear to be similar in number (5 and 4).

    Also, I’m curious if there are any other large male coalitions within this area?

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  12. Hi Raoul, generally speaking dominant coalitions respect each others territories. The coalitions patrol their territories and roar in order to “advertise” their boundaries and presence.

    It is only really when a dominant coalition or lion is getting older, or younger, stronger nomadic males arrive that fights and takeovers occur. So for the time being, as far as I am aware, the Southern Males and The Majingalanes are pretty solid and can expect to rule for a while yet.

    They will more than likely respect each others territories and perhaps as they get older they might start to get challenged by nomadic lions or stronger (significantly) coalitions.

    Lion pride dynamics (females included) are quite fluid and dynamic and I guess this is what keeps us all entralled!

    There are some good maps of the Sabi Sand Lion Pride territories on the Lions of the Sabi Sand Facebook page.

    All the best,
    Brett

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    • Thanks for the info Brett. You’ve intrigued me with the thought of a ten member male coalition!

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  13. Like Raoul, I discovered this story in the Internet. Is there any indication that the Southern Males or Majingalanes will be any less brutal than the Mapogos? It appears that the Mapogos decimated the lion population of the region. Can it recover? By the way, I have told my wife that when our young children are old enough to look out for themselves, I want to go to Africa for a safari and see these kind of events for ourselves.

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  14. Hi Damien,

    All male lions are aggressive and brutal! I don’t think they know any other way. In saying that all animals seem to have a way of establishing dominance/strength without really fighting to the death.

    What made the Mapogo unique is the fact that they were a coalition of six. Which is very unusual as they are normally in two to three and sometimes four. I only know of two other bigger coalitions and one was seven in the Kwara area of the Okavango and then by all accounts there is a monster coalition of ten in the Ngala/Kruger area at the moment ( I may be wrong).

    Remember that the Mapogo used to split up into 2s and 3s and patrol and therefore “look after” more prides. So they don’t all move together. Maybe because of their numbers they were far more confident and therefore took on other coalitions more often in their desire to all mate with females? Perhaps their rise to dominance coincided when alot of the other pride males were coming to end of their reigns?

    So basically I don’t think we will see the likes of the Mogogo for a while yet – not in the Sabi Sand at least.

    Hopefully some of the Sabi Sand rangers pick up on this article and give their thoughts as they, bar far, have the most intimate knowledge!

    Cheers
    Brett

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    • Many thanks. I’ll look forward to hearing from them.

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  15. Hello there. I recently watched an episode of caught in the act on nat geo wild and it contained footage of the dominant male ” Kinky Tail” of the mapogos and his brother ” Mr.T ” attacking and utterly destroying one of the challenging majingilanes males. To say the least it was brutal and horrific! It was truly hard to watch because I love and respect these animals so much, yet it was riveting to see the awesome display of raw power and primal instinct ! I later saw the end of kinky tail, which above all , was the hardest to watch. Granted these are lions and they live an extremely brutal and unforgiving existence. It’s kill or be killed, that’s it! It would be the equivalent to us everyday when we leave for school or work or the store or whatever being shot at constantly and us hoping to make it to the car then from point a to b safely! That’s the truth ! What a life! It’s hard to grasp and difficult to understand so it’s easier to just say it’s nature , and truly that’s what it is. Seeing kinky tail attack these four young males with the intent of killing or being killed was amazing yet very sad! The nobility of wanting to die rather than voluntarily giving up his power is awesome! Yet the merciless actions of these animals to eachother is sad, yet that is life in the wild. I truly admire these great beasts ! Watching a true king fall was very difficult, even though I know it is the fate of almost all if not all lion prides. What a beautiful lion kinky tail was, I will always remember him! I have done research on him and his brothers and know they were relentless and violent, yet they had to be. The images of his death haunt me, yet I know he wouldn’t have had it any other way. All great champions want to go out on their backs on the mat, just as kinky tail did. He fought to the end like a real champion, rest in peace king of the jungle

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    • I believe that the 2 remaining Mapogo males were seen at Paul Kruger Gate (KNP) last Saturday 25th August. Are they being forced even further south by the dominant lions in the Sabie Sands?

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  16. why was the pride called mapogo

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  17. Hi Keke

    Because “Mapogo” means “terrorize” in Shangaan (the local language of the area) and when this coalition of lions first arrived in the Sabi Sand they terrorized the resident prides and created a lot of havoc!

    Regards
    Brett

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  18. wow.. this is a great story, been following the videos and blogs about the mapogo’s recently, together with the other coalition, it is wonderful. i love lions.. but if i may ask, is hunting of lions still legal? do they allow it or so? cause I’ve been seeing videos of it in youtube.. how sad..

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  19. Hi Fred,

    Hunting lions is still legal in certain countries (much to our dismay), however lions are not hunted in the Kruger and Sabi Sand where the Mapogo are found.

    To see how you can contribute to protecting lions in Africa view this post:

    http://blog.sunsafaris.com/2012/02/21/the-last-lions/

    Regards
    Brett

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    • But why were the Mapogos branded?Is that not interfering with the animals and in a way making them domesticated!I would support that if the Lion numbers were drastically reducing but not in South Africa where you have large population’s.In Serengeti National Park and Masai mara they are not branded at all!

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  20. In 2008 I wrote the following for my family
    A Memory From The Bush

    It was the 11th of March and we had arrived at the Djuma Game Reserve’s Galago Camp. Ann & I were with Ann’s sister Nancy & her husband, Gene, and my sister Susan and her husband, Gary. It was Susan and Gary’s first trip to the bush while Nancy and Gene visit the bush 5 to 6 times a year (for over 30 years). During our stay we had a full array of ‘sightings’ including lion prides, elephant breeding herds, tons of impala, a leopard and her cubs with a kill, rhinos, hippos, a herd of cape buffalo, hyenas, black mamba snakes, etc. We witnessed, though, a most dramatic series of events that I would like to share with you. The events resulted in our experiencing an extreme range of emotional feelings from warmth and love to fear and sorrow.

    It began on the 11th when our game ride ranger, Aubray, appeared for our late afternoon game drive. His question “What would you like to see?” was immediately (since this was Susan and Gary’s 1st game drive) answered “predators – possibly, a lion kill”. (ie lions making a kill).
    He laughed, said it was a tall order, but he would focus on it.

    An hour and a half into the drive the ranger and tracker followed lion spore (tracks) to a watering hole below a 30 foot high dam, where we spotted a male lion and a nearby female and cub. We crossed the dam and drove down to the watering hole parking about 20 feet away from the male. As we sat there basking in the success of our sighting, Susan taking 10 to 15 photos, another lioness appeared at the top of the dam. She descended to the lake…three minutes later another lioness appeared at the top of the dam and descended to the lake. This occurred three more times approximately 3 minutes apart. Everyone was aghast with excitement at see so many lions. Then out of the bush behind us came three more lionesses…. with 13 cubs, ranging from no more than 12 inches in height to maybe 20 inches. We watched with astonishment as all 9 lionesses and the 13 cubs stood abreast drinking out of the watering hole. It was quite a sight to see and we immediately informed Susan and Gary how fortunate they were to experience this event in their 1st hour and a half in the bush (people have spent years going to the bush and never had this experience). The gals were ‘oowing” and “aahing” and expressing how cute the picture before their eyes appeared. One particularly independent cub struck the fancy of the ladies and picked up the name ‘Independie’ as he wandered with significant curiousity.

    Later that evening we returned to Galago Camp (a five bedroom colonial house, with a boma area facing ‘the plains’). We planned on dinner, drinks, early to bed, and up for an early morning game drive at 5:15 AM. The boma and outside dining area were great for viewing game. There was a small pond in the center of the plains that was frequented by all forms of game (impala, wildebeest, hyena, elephant, etc). That evening, while eating dinner, we heard a loud cracking noise. Gary immediately ran to turn on the spotlight. To our amazement there were five large male lions, not far from the fence of our house preparing to attack a herd of cape buffalo. The spot light startled the herd and the lion pride was unable to make a kill. We later learned that these male lions were the Mapogo pride, a fierce group of brothers with a growing reputation for their intention of dominating the entire Sabi Sands region of the bush. This would not be our last encounter with the Mapogo gang!

    On the morning of the 12th, we set out on another game drive. We saw numerous game including a large male leopard, but soon we were able to locate the large lion pride, cubs and all. Most of the lioness and cubs were sleeping and tightly hidden in the bushes. The male was lying outside of the bushes and would have probably been sleeping if it hadn’t been for the cub “Independie”, who was frolicking nearby, crawling on his stomach toward the huge male, then licking his whiskers. My limited experience with male lions and cubs led me to believe the lion would ignore the cub or swat him away. Instead the male turned gently to ‘Independie’ and licked him back for several minutes. “Oohs”, “aahs”, “how cute”, “how precious” accolades spewed out from Susan, Ann and Nancy.

    Later that day we went out on our evening (late afternoon) game ride. We had wonderful sightings but toward the end of the drive we came upon a number of the lion pride again near another lake We have since learned that this pride of lions are known as the Nkuhuma pride. Up until a month previous there had been two males but one had been killed. Several of the lionesses were lying by the lake with their cubs. One lioness had six cubs. As she was lying on the ground all six cubs were snuggling up to her, licking and cleaning her fur. She in turn licked each of them from head to foot. More oohing and aahing, more ‘this is unbelievably precious and cute” comments reined from the girls. An amazingly successful safari trip whether it was your 1st or 50th.

    At 5:00 AM, the next morning, the 13th of March, we arose for the early morning game drive. We mentioned to Aubray that we had seen almost everything but giraffe and wild dog – what could he do? As we headed away from the camp we felt comfortable with the success of our trip and we relaxed knowing that we had seen it all (we had seen crocodiles, leopards with a kill, a black mamba, rhinos, elephants, etc.). Shortly, Aubray received a radio message from another ranger – the ‘prides’ had been spotted. He turned the open land rover around and hurriedly headed off in the opposite direction. Our tracker, William, located, on the road, the spore (tracks) of the Knuhuma pride and followed them along the road until they turned north into the bush. We hurried about a hundred yards to a crossroad and we turned north – to our surprise this road had the spore of the Mapogo pride heading north – parallel to the other pride!! This could be a disaster, Lions are territorial and one of these prides had already developed a reputation for ferocity in attempting to dominate the area. It turns out that the other male in the Nkuhuma pride had been killed by the Mapogo gang a month before and since that time the Mapogo pride had been stalking the Nkuhuma pride with the intention of cleansing the gene pool – killing or running off the male and killing the cubs. With the death of the cubs the females’ would enter estrous and result in mating with the Mapogo pride. Male lions don’t want to look after and protect cubs of other males when they will have to protect their own.

    As we proceeded north, suddenly three lionesses hurriedly crossed in front of us—followed by a single cub, Independie!! We sat, four or five minutes, waiting and listening in the vehicle, wondering what had happened or what was going to happen, hearts were beating 60 miles per hour.

    Suddenly, a huge male from the Mapogo pride rushed out – stomping, roaring, spraying every bush in sight, sniffing the ground searching for the scent of the Nkuhuma pride (I edged myself from one side of the landie to the other avoiding the side the angry predator was passing by. After several minutes (it seemed like an eternity) he headed back into the bush. We headed forward but less than a mile away we came across a site that none of us will ever forget. One of the other female lions was lying at the side of the road, dead, with a couple of puncture holes in her neck. Rarely are females killed in these situations since they are one of the spoils of the battle. Undoubtedly she died defending her cubs. A large Mapogo male was lying in the grass several feet away. As he turned his head to face us he had a partially eaten cub in his jaws. A short distance down the road laid another male lion with another dead cub. The oohs and aahs turned to sighs and tears. No one wanted to stay for very long, but everyone wondered what had happened to the male, other 8 females and 13 other cubs (two cubs were so young that they had not been introduced into the pride yet) and what would happen to them. We completed our game drive later that morning and returned to Galago Camp. During the afternoon we talked about what we had witnessed and what we feared would occur.

    On the late afternoon game drive we were pleasantly surprised to hear that there had been no other attacks reported. At the end of the game drive we spotted the Mapogo pride, they had killed a waterbuck and their bellies were full and swollen. In fact they were all lying in the middle of the road preparing for a goodnight sleep.

    As we headed out the next morning on our final game ride we wondered what had happened to the lionesses, the male, Independie and the other cubs. Radio reports indicated that there were no new reports of attacks. We were pleased but down deep we all felt the Nkutumu pride had a risky future. In the latter stage of our drive we were crossing a dam when hurriedly crossing in front of us was a lioness and her two cubs. Suddenly, we concluded that there was a possibility that the Nkutuma Pride just might survive. Nature takes many different turns, but regardless of its results, we will all remember this experience for along time.

    Note – The Mapogo pride has become famous for their ferocity. You can gather info on them as well as the Nkutumu pride by googling them (you will find many stories recounted about them, see their pictures, see videos, youtubes, etc). For your info – as of the 23rd of March there had been no other attacks, the Nkutumu male has been sited and heard roaring and calling his pride back. Several of the females and their cubs have been sited eating at various kills. There is an 8 minute tribute to the dead lioness on the net. A day after her death there had been no appearance of scavengers (hyenas or vultures) at the site. Speculation by a ranger was that the scene had been so violent that the scavengers were keeping their distance.

    April, 2008

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    • That was amazing to read! Thanks for sharing your diary with us all. I felt like I was there! Well that was 2008 so I guess the nkutumu male is long but gone now eigther at the hands or shud I say paws of the mapogo or of the majinglane coalition? I dont know as im fairly new to discovering these great encounters and stories of the mapogo and majinglane. My first sighting of these magnificent beasts was on youtube.. and I have to say that I will only see them on youtube because im not very brave to go on an open vehicle for fear it might hit uneven ground and tip over providing a meal for those we love so dearly.. I would go in a steel or iron covered vehicle with reinforced windows :)

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  21. Hallo brett , we sighted them last sunday close to the kruger gate , look on my facebook blog for pictures ,name eben stone

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  22. Thanks Eben! Great to hear! I will check them out!

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  23. Hallo Brett. I am a student doing a project on the Mapogo boys. Can you give me a bit of info like who of the 5 still live and how did the others die. I only know of Kinky Tail’s death. And what were the names of the 5. I know Kinky tail, Mr.T and Pretty boy. Who were the other 2. Thanks

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  24. Hi Alwyn – there is a Facebook Page for the Mapogo here: https://www.facebook.com/mapogo?fref=ts and there is a wealth of information there. Also have a look at the Lions of the Sabi Sand Facebook page.

    I hope this helps?

    Regards
    Brett

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  25. Dear Brett,
    Re. your above history of the mighty Mapogo males, there is a photo of 2 fighting males. These are not Mapogos, but Majingilanes. Londolozi published a blog around mid-end february 2012 with video and pics of the brotherly fight. Maybe you can take it out as people take it for Mapogos. Best regards,Patrik

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    • Hi Patrick – removed now – thanks for pointing that out.

      Regards
      Brett

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  26. Hallo Brett, The Mapogos were named after the vigilante group Mapogo Amathamatha who took no shit from no one and ruled in Mpumalanga and Limpopo provinces when the police could no longer regulate the crime in the area. I do not know the full history of the group “Mapogo Amathamatha but that is where they got their name from!. And they took no shit! At one stage I was refered to as the sixth Mapogo just because I did the same! Unfortunately I was never told not to step on the toes of the foot that can kick your but!

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  27. Is there anything new on the Mapogo? How old are the two remaining males now? Have they been seen recently?

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  28. Is there anything new on the two remaining Mapogo? Are they still alive?

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  29. Hi Damien – there is no real good news. We have been piecing together their last movements and will put up a post soon.

    Cheers
    Brett

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  30. Whoa!

    Thanks for the awesome read.

    The Mapogo pride was legendary, thats alot of lions they killed, lions truely live a hectic life style. I’m Glad I to got read up on them from people who actually saw them and not just hear say. A site of the ancient and historic asiatic lions is quite hard to find, being alot of there preserve records are in Indian language’s…but this one about the (African) Lion is awesome. I cant help to wonder, if lions or similar status from back in the 17th century would emit themselves like the Mapogo, if not for the over poaching done in the 17th-18th-19th centurys.

    I came across a Inter-specific site that almost had me convinced that lions hardly fight as much as the media says, but a little digging around and I found out that lions do still hold there Barbary ways. For it was a inter-specific one on lions and tigers, a bit of a arcaine topic, for I am too against animal cruelty 110%… but intresting none the less. And I think its kinda okay if its kept hypotheticaly and or just learning of past historical records (not present or future) I wonder now, what would be there inter-specific relations with there cousins the tiger. being that back before the 17th centurys the asiatic lion covered almost all of india, I have gathered only little information so far but I am impressed on the asiatic lion, for even a smaller version of his brothers the african lion, to not only hold ground, but to win against the Bengal… Kinda contradicts the ever growing “opinions” what most sites of today go by…which is that bengals should be superior to asiatic lions and some say even african lions.

    But…on a direct note, being that tigers are solitary and in my opinion a pride like Mapogo would be too much for any tiger (Being solitary) but if we look at the statuses of something like the mapogo lions, being that they fought so much and fighting leads to experince, do you all think that a much more experinced (Single) mapogo “lead or the leader lion” can or may have a edge on a tiger who would fight no more than 6 fights in his entire life?

    Regards

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Mapogo Lions are still alive – By Brett Thomson - [...] Sabi Private Game Reserve have had a recent sighting of the remaining Mapogo. On a game drive yesterday Pretty …
  2. The remaining Mapogo Lions March on to Singita – by Brett Thomson - [...] http://blog.sunsafaris.com/2012/04/17/history-of-the-mighty-mapogo-male-lions-by-brett-thomson/ [...]
  3. The Mapogo Lions Heritage - by Courteney Blunden - [...] History of the Mighty Mapogo Male Lions – by Brett Thomson April 17, 2012 [...]

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