Dramatic demise of the Mapogo Coalition

Posted on March 20, 2012

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.

14 thoughts on “Dramatic demise of the Mapogo Coalition

  1. The death of the short haired Mapogo brother (Mr T as we we called him) is sad but inevitable – he died as he lived and parhaps that is exactly how he wanted it. Really sad that we won’t see him or the clan of brothers together again but what an exciting week for all of you at LH who were able to witness tne end of one chapter and the start of another.
    We will be there later this year to pay our respects to the Mapogos and meet the new coalition.
    Thankyou for a thoughful, respectful and exciting blog Dave!

  2. "The King is dead. Long live the King"
    Ten days ago I was watching them with all my fascination! And as ever before it was a pure pleasure! It will be hard to enjoy game drives in August knowing they aren?t there anymore! Thank you very much Dave for a beautiful tribute!

  3. the thrill of victory…the agony of defeat. the transition of a kingdom..of an era, bush-style. heartbreaking on one hand yet an exciting anticipation on the other. thank you dave for a touching and dignified tribute to an end…. and a beginning.

  4. Thanks Dave for your clear and respectful words regarding the Mapogo and Selati coalitions. Much as I hate to admit it, the Mapogos were certainly the apex of the apex species and Mr. T’s death has clearly changed everything. It is a brutal life these male lions lead and Mr. T taught us so much. I especially appreciate your reminder about the Ximhunzwe pride’s need for stability…. The end of any era is always sad and yet hopeful as the reminder that it is also the beginning of a new one.

  5. Thank you for sharing. It is always sad to see the death of a so special lion like MrT that shared many moments of his life with us. He lived and died like an authentic lion. He could probably run away to become a nomad but instead he choose to fight and died. We respect you for that and we will never forget you for all the moments that you have made us to enjoy. Roam free and wild wherever you are in the company of the other Mapogos gone before. RIP

  6. Have wondered ove the past year, what has happened to Mr. T. The king is dead, long live the king….

    Is the Ottowa pride still a coalition? Or have they also gone the way of the Sand pride?

    Joy, Camarillo CA.

  7. Hi Joy,

    The Othawa pride is struggling but still consists of 2 lionesses.

    The coalition of 2 young Othawa males were chased off east by the Mapogo a year ago! Presumably still alive somewhere over there, they were seen a few weeks ago.

  8. Thanks for the update, Dave. How quickly things change.

    and how much I miss SA. Hopefully in 2013 we will be back. Joy

  9. Hi Dave great story’Just wondering why the 2 other mapogo males did not help mr t did they run away like its been reported and why didn’t mr t run. Kinky Tail & Mr T were brave fighters both took on 4 males and sadly died trying while the other mapogo males ran away. Why?

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