the chase

The morning was crisp with the mist hanging over the bushveld while the sun gently rose. The air was still and the guests were filled with a sense of excitement and anticipation – what was this morning going to bring? Little did they know that they were going to bear witness to a saga that has been unfolding in the Sabi Sands for some time. We responded to a sighting which was reported in the north eastern part of the reserve, a male lion had been sported but there was no confirmation of his identity due to the brief visual. As the guests and myself had been treated to a fantastic leopard sighting the night before, we made the decision to see if we could move into the area to relocate on the male. After searching for approximately 20 minutes, we were greeted by this regal figure walking down the road – it was the Kruger male. It was unusual to see him this far north east as he has been in hiding in the southern part of the reserve close to Earth Lodge. During his time in the south, he joined up with Floppy Ear and the 3 other females and was even seen mating with the same female that Solo had been mating with only a few days before. Was the displaced king returning to his territory to reclaim it for himself?

lion sighting while on safari at Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve

There was a nervousness about him, and this was confirmed when he darted into the thickets to the side of the road. This was unusual as he always displays a confidence which almost borders on arrogance – something was clearly wrong. We lost visual and spent some time driving around the block to try and relocate him but sadly to no avail-he was moving quick and it would be difficult to find him again. After consulting with my experienced tracker Meshack, we decided to do a loop in a last ditch effort. At virtually the exact same spot that we lost the Kruger male, we found Floppy Ear walking down the road. Despite her age, she is still an impressive female who has always had an affinity with the Kruger male. She was sniffing various bushes to establish his whereabouts and trying to get to him. She was so focused on finding him that she actually walked straight up to the vehicle and brushed past Meshack`s leg, who turned round to the guests with an infectious smile. We were hoping that she would lead us to him but it was clear to see that she was hot on his heels. She stopped in a dip and while she was trying to pick up on his scent I thought I would scan around the bush for any sign of the elusive cat. It was then that I noticed behind the vehicle a large male with an authoritive posture, however, this was not the male we were looking for, this was in fact the challenger – it was the unmistakable Solo.

lion sighting while on safari at Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve

Solo and Floppy Ear had an altercation about a month and a half ago when she fort off Solo and the Eyrefield male to try and protect her two young cubs. That was sadly the last time that I saw the cubs, with the defiant female exhibiting puncture wounds and claw marks on her lower back and hind legs. These scars are still visible, leaving the mark of that day and clearly she remembers this because upon seeing Solo made a hasty retreat. Solo set off in pursuit, with his full belly from a recent kill swinging like a giant pendulum. What were his intentions the guests asked – a question that could not be answered. Was he looking to bring swift justice on this disobedient female who refused to bow to the new regime or was she caught in between the two opposing males? The female accelerated through the veld constantly stopping to check on her pursuers position, trying to work out her next move. With the weight of his stomach being an inhibiting factor, Solo fell further behind the experienced female. Eventually he gave up on the chase and decided to rest in a Tambotie thicket, while the female made her way into the centre of the reserve.

male lion sighting while on safari at Sabi Sabi Luxury Safari Lodges

This power struggle between these males has been going on for some time and will continue to do so until physical contact is made. The Kruger male fears this coalition from the north while Solo and the Eyrefield male are aware of the strength and experience of the Kruger male who has held a territory for some time. When will the time come which will bring either a new reign or the continuation of a dynasty?

male lion sighting while on safari at Sabi Sabi Luxury Safari Lodges

As humans we are constantly trying to impart our own emotions to the actions of these beautiful creatures. As soon as this happens, guests don’t just experience a sighting, they experience an interaction. A connection that is emotional and binding.



  1. cheryl heaton says

    I love KNPMale and very much respect what he’s been tbrough keeping his family together! And I love Solo and Cleo too, but somehow feel my heart ache for Floppy ears her loss of cubs and her loyalty to KNP male is touching! I know as humans looking in from our world we shouldn’t judge…BUT I simply hope KNP holds on to his family! I wished at one point Solo &Cleo would team up with KNP MALE but sadly they don’t agree! Time will tell! And I love them all!
    As long as they do not come to harm from humans I make peace with mother natures outcomes!

  2. wendy hawkins says

    Well done Terry! Always good to read of the on-going happenings of these guys. Lovely pics too! Now for the next exciting episode?

  3. mj bradley says

    Thank you so much for the wonder blog.. it is amazing and wonderous to experience through your words the struggles of the bush..
    I appreciate your sharing your little piece of paradise.

    may the Kruger male reign for just a while longer!

  4. jerry says

    I will be there in 60days! I’m already emotionally involved with this struggle just by reading your blogs. Don’t stop writing!

  5. heather chalmers says

    Well, Terry, it has been a year and a half since we were at Sabi Sabi and I am still hopelessly bound. We never saw KNP, but we so loved his brother and hearing about all of this keeps the magic alive. Thanks for another superior blog. Be safe, big cats!

  6. shirley says

    Terry very good writing. Really put the reader right there as usual. My wish is that KNP holds onto the pride. I think it would be good if KNP, Floppy, and their daughter find the younger generation of the group, and remain with them to finish raising them to adulthood. While Solo and Cleo remain wiht the other females. KNP has two other Sub adults too in the Charleston pride, So he has choices, but the outcome is still unknown.

  7. john machuzick says

    It’s so awesome to be able to continue to follow the daily lives of these unbelievable creatures through your blog. I never knew how attached I would become to following the stories since our visit last October. Thanks so much for keeping us abreast if the activities of the jungle!

    John Machuzick

  8. joni scott says

    This is nature at it’s best. Thanks for the story, and do keep us updated. I have to say, I’m also hoping KNP continues to reign for a while longer!

  9. ana cláudia says

    Eu estou torcendo para que os Sparta assumam o poder, pois são jovens, vão manter e proteger as fêmeas do bando Sul por mais tempo que o velho Kruger. Será ruim, por vamos perder os filohtes mais jovens, e os 4 machos sub-adultos ainda estão jovens, mas mesmo perdendo todos esses filhotes, teremos mais se os Sparta se acasalarem com as 7 Sul.

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