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.

lion, The Lion Dynamics of Shamwari Private Game Reserve

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.

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.

lion, The Lion Dynamics of Shamwari Private Game Reserve

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.

lion, The Lion Dynamics of Shamwari Private Game Reserve

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.

lion, The Lion Dynamics of Shamwari Private Game Reserve

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