The Last Remaining Sand River Male is surprising everyone

Posted on April 12, 2009

Since the demise of the Sand River Pride at the beginning of the year, the one remaining young male seems to be hanging in there.

I have been holding off for a while on commenting on this situation until we had an understanding of which way this was going to go.

The one remaining Sand River Male has been surviving on a meager diet of tortoises, rodents and smaller game which he has been managing to catch. He has been spending most of his time in the old territory, but also venturing further east which is territory held by the Ottawa Pride. It was a matter of time before he was going to run into them, and this indeed happened not too long ago, the events that followed have not only amazed us, but have also once again showed proved that there are no rules written in stone.

On the morning in question, the young Sand River Male inadvertently wondered quite deep into Ottawa Territory and literally head first into the Ottawa Pride themselves. The two adult females of the Ottawa Pride, and some of their juveniles immediately set upon him, and we were convinced he was going to be killed. Amazingly he didn‘t back down, instead he lay on his back in a posture of submission and took the onslaught. Then the incredible happened, one of the Large Male Lions from the Mapogo Coalition arrived on the scene and drove the Ottawa females off and lay down next to the Sand River Male, as if to protect him. Every time the Ottawa Females tried to approach the young Male and attack him they were driven off by the Large Male. This continued for a while until the Ottawa Pride moved off, followed by the Large Male, and yes you guessed it, the young Sand River Male tagged along behind at a respectful distance.

A short time later, the Ottawa females managed to bring down an Impala, and once they had made the kill, were immediately driven off by the Mapogo Male who would not allow any of them close to the kill, except the young Sand River Male. Although he did not feed on the kill while this amazing situation was been observed, there was evidence later that he had managed to get some scraps off it. The Ottawa females later went on to kill a Wildebeest during the night and again there was evidence that the young make was still in the vicinity, and again has managed to gain some sustenance from the kill.

The question needs to be asked, why the Sand River Male is putting himself in danger by trying to gain entry into a Pride that he is not related to, and why is he being protected by one of the Mapogo Males. Firstly, he is the son of one of the Mapogo’s and this relationship will be realized, but history tells us that this is not justification of the Large Males behavior, as the Mapogo’s also fathered the Othawa juveniles as well. There could well be an element of desperation, and the survival instinct that is ever present has kicked in, overshadowing feelings for his own personal safety. I am not pretending to be an expert on these matters; I can only report behavior as we encounter it, and I am also sure everyone has their own personal theory as to what is going on here. I guess time will tell and we will keep you posted on the Sand River Males progress. I for one am routing for him, and hope he surprises us all by living a long and fruitful life, thereby in time, passing the Sand River genes on to future Prides within the Reserve.

The last time he was seen was a couple of nights ago, and although looking thinner that he should do, and once again, for the time being, on his own, he is still maintaining. There are very few people who would have given this particular Lion any odds on surviving on his own after the demise of his Pride, myself included. And although he is not out of the woods yet, there is a long hard road ahead for him, who are we to say that he won‘t make it, after all, he has surprised us all thus far, and best we not forget, it is Sand River Blood that is flowing through his veins!!

21 thoughts on “The Last Remaining Sand River Male is surprising everyone

  1. OH WOW Duncan, this is INCREDIBLE news, thank you for sharing with us – its so encouraging to know this little chap seems to have survived (so far) against all odds. Maybe the Mapogos will take him in as a new young member of their coalition – one is eternally optimistic. Please keep us updated on the progress of this incredible soul.

  2. Hi Duncan,

    That is most encouraging and surprising news. It would be absolutely wonderful, and a tale worthy of the Boma fireside if he can manage to carve out a place for himself within the complex structure of their relationships. It must be extremely difficult for all of you to sit passively on the side-lines, observing the "Rule of Reserves" that dictate no human intervention in the progression of the Natural Order of occurences.

    As always, our admiration for your dedication and professionalism, and our gratitude for the updates.

    As you say, we are all rooting for him.

    Very Best

  3. What a wonderful tale of courage and raw instinct. Thanks Duncan for passing on this inspirational story. Let’s hope and pray our little male hangs in there. Aren’t there any scraps from that lovely kitchen of yours that could be shared with this hungry fellow!! Wish it was that simple to fix! Keep us updated.

  4. great news…if there is one thing i have learnt in my short time in the bush, its never ever write off a lion! i have written our lions in so many situations and they keep on miraculously finding their way out of trouble, especially when it is least expected….it must be said that all the ups and downs to take their toll on one’s emotions….i hope your young male has more ups than downs!



  5. Super story Duncan.

    Keep us at Kings posted. We have a similar situation with 5 youngsters.


  6. Hi i already was a little bit updated by Aquila ( thank you) But the update you duncan have done fills me with great joy!

    This lion deserve’s a long and happy lion life after what was done to his family by humans.

    Maybe we should give him a name (sandriver?)

    Thanks so much for the update! I Love to read your postings.

    Take care and be safe.

  7. A short question: I know if wolve’s and dogs lie down and show troat and belly they are not attacked anymore.

    Is this also normal behaviour for a lion ?
    ore is it really unexpected behaviour ?

    What are the chance’s for him if he runs into the complete Mapogo coalition ?

    Duncan you’r message made this day a great day for me . again Thanks a lot!

    I will check this weblog everyday now.

    Take care and be safe.
    PS i also put this story you posted with the source ( lepoard Hills) and you’r name in 3 other website’s were a lot of people do care and want to be updated on this special Sandriver.

    ( I hope its OK).

  8. I suspect the answer to these questions will be reviled in time as we watch his progress. I can not make an informed comment on what will happen when he comes face to face with other members of the coalition, but when it happens we will let you know.

    It is common for Lions to show submissive behavior when facing an attack by others by lying on their backs, however what is strange here is the fact he is trying to be accepted by a Pride that he is not related to, and one of the coalition males seems to be aiding him in this endeavor.

    As I say time will tell, we will keep everyone updated

  9. Thank you for this information Duncan.

    Highly appreciated.

    One more question if a lion shows this submissive behaviour does it normally stop the attacks he was facing before ?

    Its great to learn now so much about lions in wildlife! In the past i mostly focussed on life under water espacially whales and life on coral reefs.

    (i had aquariums and dogs and cats all my life) cant live without them 🙂
    Take care and thanks again.

  10. Hi Iceage. We are delighted that you mention the Leopard Hills weblog and Duncan’s articles on other websites. If you do though, may I ask you to add a link back to the original article on this website?

    Also, if you subscribe to this weblog, you will be notified everytime a new article is posted and therefore need not check the site everyday, unless you want to read new comments.


  11. Hi Brendon,

    If i mention ore quoote an article from here i always say This is a message from Duncan from
    then the copy and paste.
    Is this what you mean ? Ore do you want me to put the the embedded link screen also? This one ?
    Sorry for my english (:

    Strangly i did subscribe, but got no alert. Ill subscribe again.

    Take care and be safe.

  12. Hi Iceage,

    Thanks for your reply and oontinued interest in the Leopard Hills weblog.

    I would prefer it if you would add a link directly to the relevant article, so that people can read the article on the weblog if they like. They may find other topics of interest while they are here. You can do this simply by copying and pasting the URL (link) from your browser. Example:
    No need to use the embed code. This is intended for webmasters.

    To subscribe to the weblog, simply enter your email address into the "Subscribe to Updates" panel on the top right of the page. Don’t forget to activate your subscription from the activation email which will be sent to you.


  13. Brendon I have sended you an email about this.
    Now lets go back on all the news we can get on the Sandriver Youngster.

    He is the main reason why i log on into Leopard hills.

    I and many ppl more want to know about his adventure’s

    Take Care and be Safe,

  14. Just a quick update from our side, the Sand River Young Male was seen again on drive this morning, looking thin, but definitely holding his own at this stage, we will try and get some more pictures for for you shortly to up load on the blog.

  15. Here is an interesting article I found written by John Power about lions killing Elephants…

    Elephant killing by the Savuti lions in the Chobe National Park,
    By John Power
    Photograph: Shem Compion

  16. Liz Hi

    There has not been a sign of the Sand River Male for a while now, we believe he is keeping a low profile as 4 of the Mopogo Males have been around lately, hopefully this is the case. We will let you know as soon as we see him again.

  17. Thank you Duncan, I sincerely hope he is alive and well; somehow this is just one little chap one cant just let go. Take care

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