The night air was heavy with humidity but there was no mistaking the echo of male lions roaring close to Bush Lodge. The roaring continued all night and allowed for huge excitement and anticipation of who it was. Was it Solo and Eyrefield? Was it the Kruger male? Was it the Sandriver males? Or even the Majingilane males?
We set off early in the morning trying to head into the last location of the roaring which had left an eerie stillness within the African bush. We drove with intent and a sense of urgency trying to find any signs of the lions, twenty minutes became forty five minutes. No tracks or signs.
Heavyness (my tracker) and I were in continual chat about the possible location. We decided to head down towards the Msuthlu riverbed to pick up signs. As we turned the blind corner, there stood the unmistakable image of a huge male lion. His size was unmatched by the vegetation and the coloration of the mane and droopy eyes led us to immediately conclude that this was the Kruger male. His stomach was stretched to bursting capacity and we immediately began to assume that he had just finished a kill and that potentially around the corner he would lead us to the Southern Pride. We could not have been more wrong.
“Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still” – Chinese proverb. The Kruger male began to walk off the road and immediately Heavyness spotted another male lion. The doubt that hit me was incredible, had I mistakenly identified the Kruger male for what could only now be the Sandriver males? ‘Deep doubts, deep wisdom; small doubts, little wisdom.’ As we approached closer, there lay Solo, unmistakable.
The Kruger male walked straight up to Solo, goose bumps and shivers running up and down my body. Was I about to witness the fight between the two previous enemies over the Southern Pride that we had all been expecting? NO…..
“Whenever you are confronted with an opponent. Conquer him with love” – Mahatma Gandhi. This is exactly what happened, the Kruger male approached Solo with soft contact calling and indulged in facial rubbing, an essential part of lion bonding, they stood up like two giants who had just defeated an army of warriors. Their confidence shone right through them, they scent marked together and led us to a kill. Not any kill, this was a huge buffalo bull. They fed in harmony, no growling or hissing at all and no signs of the Southern Pride lionesses. We are still unsure of what happened during the night, had they been calling to get on touch with each other? Had they killed the buffalo together? Is this new bond/coalition temporary? This is only what we can leave up to the imagination and wait for time to write the story that follows within the African sand.
Over the past three days the bond between the Kruger male and Solo only seems to be growing stronger with absolutely no aggression having been shown at all towards one another – only continual facial rubbing and grooming each other to soft contact calling. I cannot help but just smile thinking about the incredible events that I was lucky enough to have witnessed.
With there being intense pressure of male lion coalitions at Sabi Sabi and 16 different male lions having been seen over the past 8 months, was the Kruger male turning to an old known enemy in Solo? Solo is a nomadic male whose coalition partner, Eyrefield, is still missing within the depths of the Sabi Sands after a recent fight with the Selati males. This move could lead to a huge and strong coalition being formed and finally creating the much needed stability for the Southern Pride. “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner” -Nelson Mandela.