The defining moment had to come, speculation as to how and when has dominated conversation around dinner tables and campfires in recent weeks.
Every epic tale must build up and deliver a scintillating finale and the story of arguably the most acclaimed and notorious coalition of male lions ever documented to prowl Africa certainly did!
Here is a captivating image taken by Hannes in 2007 of 5 of the Mapogo lions during their heyday.
The 4 challengers a few days ago before the confrontation!
After their brief encounter with the 4 Selati(Southern) males a few weeks ago when the weakest Mapogo member was slightly injured, the dynamic changed and a follow up encounter involving the coalitions was imminent.
Was it the Ximhungwe lioness mating with the Selati males a month ago and giving them a taste of the trophy at stake? Was it a sudden a weakness detected in the weaker Mapogo male? What is certain is that a number of factors led to the showdown and heart wrenching culmination on the morning of March 16th!
Our guests have been privileged enough to witness both sides of the story evolve over the past week.
Firstly the youngsters moving in, strengthening their coalition bond, scent marking all over the Mapogo’s northern territory. It was almost as if they were preparing themselves for the inevitable confrontation.
See video below of the young males in the days building up to the 16th!
Meanwhile the 3 Mapogo were occupied and content with a large buffalo kill in the south that kept them busy for days.
On the morning of the 16th when we received the radio message “we have audio of lions fighting in the south”, we knew it was on! The initial message was relayed as 3 Mapogo’s have isolated a young male, this is what we expected…what we wished to be for the proud old men we had known for so long!
On arrival on the scene to see the tables turned was unforeseen, shocking…it took us all some time to grasp what was unfolding in front of us. We expected all 3 Mapogo’s to stand their ground and rise to the challenge!
The old boxing adage “You’re only as good as your last fight” certainly holds true! It was the veteran gladiator that stood up to be counted and fought admirably for his territory, his offspring, his lionesses and ultimately his livelihood as a male lion!
Video of the defining moment.
Without a territory is he not a male lion? He would rather die defending his pride than live out his existence as a castigated nomad, whatever your thoughts are on the short maned Mapogo and there are many contrasting opinions! He will always be respected and remembered for his character and fearlessness.
An afternoon thunderstorm rose eerily and saturated the bloodstained earth, washing away the Mapogo bloodline and unveiling an exciting new era.
The fate of the remaining Mapogo cubs hangs precariously in the balance, they will most likely be killed! We are however excited about new beginnings and some stability for the Ximhungwe pride under the Selati males.