It was still dark when we left the camp as we tried to get a head start on the sunrise and capture a few photos of dawning of a new day. As we reached the open area with a beautiful view to the east we settled in amongst a herd of zebra, switched off the vehicle and sat in complete silence waiting for the sun to peak its head over the horizon and warm our magical piece of Africa. The sounds of the dawn chorus came in from all directions immediately putting a smile on my face. Suddenly the chorus was interrupted by the unmistakable sound of lions roaring.
As the first two finished roaring another group started to roar in return and so the tennis match of territoriality began. After the sun had peaked we made our way towards where the roaring had originated and it wasn’t long before we found tracks for the Southern pride. We tracked for a while and they were eventually found moving south away from the roaring. As we sat and watched 6 of the females and all 8 cubs we could hear the roaring getting louder. The guests were focused on the lions and I was listening to the radio as some of the other vehicles were trying to find the source of the commotion. Next thing Brett called in that he had just seen one of the Mapogos running at full pace north and roaring at the top of his lungs. The Kruger males were found shortly after that and they too were roaring but their body language was completely different to the mapogo seen bolting away from the Kruger males.
When I eventually joined up with the males they were looking confident and in superb condition. They walked along the road, rubbing their heads through the trees and scent marking as they went along. Suddenly they stopped to listen and we could hear the resounding sound of more males calling in the distance. They returned fire and the sound of that awesome roar echoed through the chilly autumn air leaving my guests and I speechless. It was amazing how often they let the explode from their lungs making sure that all the competition around knew who was the boss of this land.
What happened through the night and early hours of the morning is not completely clear. From what we have pieced together the Mapogos ran into the Majengies and were chased into our reserve, here they were greeted by the belligerent Kruger males who too wanted them out as fast as possible and drove them out. The Southern Pride wanted nothing to do with this craziness and beat a hasty retreat of their own to get the cubs to safety. The next couple of days should be interesting to see how this all pans out!