lions at war

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.

sabi sands sunrise

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.

Southern pride at sabi sabi private game reserve

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.

Lion roar while on safari game drive at Sabi Sabi

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!

by: Richard de Gouveia (Little Bush Camp ranger)
Images by: Darred Joubert and Richard de Gouveia


  1. frank says

    That is stunning, never heard that much roaring. My wife now wants to come back again for a fourth week!
    Will be checking in for further news as to what happens next. Frank.

    • ranger rich says

      Frank, it would be great to have you and your wife join us if you do decide to come back! Have a great day!

  2. bader says

    Awesome!! Thanks for the update Richard. It looks like the remaining Mapogos can’t find peace anywhere in the Sabi Sands. I find it strange, or pretty bold that the Mapogos were vocalizing when surrounded by two dominant coalitions. These guys are either crazy or got some cojones!!

    • ranger rich says

      Bader, I would imagine it is the latter of the two! I dont think they will find peace anywhere in Kruger. We just have a lot of exposure to the Sands but the rest of Kruger will have the same pressure!

  3. juanjo says

    Thank you Richard. Beatiful videos. The Southern pride is really awesome. We would be grateful if you provide any new info in the next days

    • ranger rich says

      Thank you Juanjo! No new info yet beside the fact that the Mapogos have now been chased into the central Sabi Sands by Solo and the Sparta males. For regular updates drop our Facebook page a like and follow the blog and daily updates!

  4. syl says

    Thanks for another great read for my morning tea…You all had quite the day yesterday. Never a dull moment:)

  5. gloria sapp says

    WOW thank you for this.Great to see the 2 mapogos lookin ok again and hope they can find a place to live soon.Southern pride lookin great

  6. frank says

    Not sure if it is a fault in my ipad but there are pictures behind the writing,
    of lions. This unfortunatley makes it not possible to read the writing. Is it just me?

    • ranger rich says

      Hi Frank, I will get the IT guys to have a look and we will get back to you! Thanks for the feedback

    • sabi sabi says

      Hi Frank..we are sorry to hear that. We have checked the blog on our ipads and all seems fine. Please check again and if the problem persists let us know so we can do all we can to rectify this for you. Thanks for following our blog we appreciate it.

  7. sheila says

    Your blogs are always worth the wait. Both videos are worth adding to my ‘favourites’ list. There is no better sound than that of a lions roar, in my opinion anyways. Thank you sooooo much, Richard.

  8. merryn robertson says

    Far out Rich those lions very close to the trackers!!! Amazing to hear the male lions, have never heard that before. Thanks Rich :)

    • ranger rich says

      Always a pleasure Merryn! I am glad you enjoyed the video now you and John need to come visit so i can show you in person!

  9. melissa langlois says

    Great capture! I am always amazed that they just go about their business and dont seem to mind your watching them? Are they just use to the vehicles and people being around? Thanks for the video! ~M

    • ranger rich says

      Hi Melissa

      Thank you for the comment. The lions have grown up with the vehicles and so have become used to them. It is also due to the rangers that have come before and their ethical handling of the vehicles around the animals allowing them to not feel threatened by the vehicles or the people that they hold.

      There is also strict protocol with regards to viewing cubs. We only allow 2 vehicles to view the cubs and they are only viewed when their mother is with them. This allows them to see that their mother has no problem with the vehicle and then adopt her relaxed nature.

      Hope this answers your question.

      Have a great day!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *