The Lion Dynamics of Shamwari Private Game Reserve

The Lion Dynamics of Shamwari Private Game Reserve

Over the past few months there has been a massive change in the lion dynamics on Shamwari Private Game Reserve. The once proud and dominant Southern Pride has now been diminished to only the beautiful lioness with the blue eye, her sister, the sister’s two cubs and on occasion the two sub adult male lions (who are looking particularly handsome). The reason for this change is the official takeover of the two Northern Male lion coalition.

The Northern Males

These two males were brought onto the reserve two years ago in an attempt to spread the genetics of the high and mighty Southern Male. For the past two years the Northern Males spent all the time in the northern reaches of the reserve, establishing their dominance over the Northern Pride, siring cubs with their lionesses and gaining confidence in an area where the Southern Male no longer has the energy to patrol. Although he is in immaculate condition for a male lion of his age, he cannot compete with youth and energy.

A Northern Male

A Northern Male photographed by Ranger James Moodie

How It Started

It started one morning when the rangers from Eagles Crag had reported numerous lions roaring at one another from the north and south, so once the morning coffee was finished, they set out to investigate, only to find an interaction three years in the making. The Southern Male was located on the central parts of the reserve, far north of where he had been found for almost a year prior to the day, and he was being pursued by the two Northern Males. What finally snapped in the brothers minds we will never know, but the chase was on and they were relentless in their pursuit.

The Southern Male realised he was outnumbered and took to the adage of ‘live to fight another day’, promptly making a hasty retreat. To our surprise the brothers chased him down, a marathon that lasted two hours and many kilometres. Eventually they managed to catch him near Riverdene Family Lodge and they mauled him from all angles, stopping only to roar and mark territory in front of him, a massive insult in lion language. He was done and at that point he realised he had lost the war. After much growling and bearing of teeth he managed to make his escape and hightailed it towards the south eastern parts of the reserve in hiding. The brothers allowed this as they knew they had done what was necessary to show who the new kings were.

The Southern Male

The Southern Male photographed by Ranger James Moodie

What Happened Next?

The next order of business was to seek out the prides in the new kingdom and kill the offspring that wasn’t theirs, something that seems cruel and harsh but necessary to ensure the future of their genetics. They first found the Blue-Eyed lioness and she cleverly distracted them by showing interest in their ‘needs’. This distraction allowed the rest of the pride to quietly sneak away into a more secluded area of Shamwari, giving the cubs and sub adults a better chance of survival. It seemed to work relatively well as the cubs and young boys are still thriving in the absence of the brothers, who have briefly returned to the North to check on their pride and offspring there.


Blue-Eye photographed by Ranger James Moodie

The Southern Male was once a very proud and vocal king, yet he has now been reduced to silence and only on rare occasions will join up with his Pride, very sad to see but such is the way of nature. Interesting times are ahead on the horizon and many questions will be answered about the future of a once powerful pride of lions. What is the fate of the two young cubs? Will the two brothers survive to fill out their fathers’ shoes? Will Southern Male eventually come out of hiding for one last battle to the death in the defence of his pride? Only time can answer these questions, in the meantime let’s just enjoy the story as it unfolds.

A Northern Male

A Northern Male making himself known. Photographed by Ranger James Moodie

2018-11-14T12:16:01+00:00 November 14th, 2018|Categories: Experiences at Shamwari, Seen On Game Drive|6 Comments


  1. Jenise Hight November 18, 2018 at 5:10 am - Reply

    Amazing to read about the day friends and I were at Shamwaei, with Dylan as our ranger, to witness the offensive. Looking forward to future updates.

    • Shamwari Game Reserve November 28, 2018 at 12:37 pm - Reply

      Wonderful, thank you for your comment Jenise.

  2. jeni November 18, 2018 at 11:44 am - Reply

    We stayed for 4 days at Shamwari (at Long Lee) and saw the male lion on a number of occasions – as well as seeing the northern males make their way into his territory. The roaring was amazing. The Shamwari experience is like no other, every day is like a new installment in the greatest soap opera in the world.

    • Shamwari Game Reserve November 28, 2018 at 12:38 pm - Reply

      Hi jeni, that’s incredible! Thank you for your comment. We’re delighted to hear that you got to see this exciting interaction at Shamwari.

  3. Scott Douglass November 18, 2018 at 10:37 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the update. We were there in May and it started then. We followed the 2 northern lions as they chased the southern lion all morning. It was hot and when they finally caught him they were to tired to fight or maybe they weren’t ready but seems to me this had been brewing since then.

    • Shamwari Game Reserve November 28, 2018 at 12:39 pm - Reply

      Hi Scott, thank you for your comment. It’s fantastic that you got to witness this exciting change-up first hand!

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