As night falls and we begin to pack up our sundowner stop, a booming roar pierces the quiet night. A sound all familiar to our tracker. “Lions”, he says, as he points out the direction from where the roar came from. “Sounds like two males”, he adds.
We had had a recent sighting of two male lions that usually occur in the southern sector of our reserve. When we first saw them, we knew little about these two nomads, only that they were very shy, especially when approached by us in the vehicles. On several occasions, we would have to get the trackers off their seats and into the safari vehicle just to get them relaxed with the vehicles. Then, their roars didn’t sound as confident as they do now. I remember watching their first encounter with our then-resident males; they would roar and as soon as the other males responded, they would move away from the sound of four males responding.
On one occasion though, we found them in the morning walking through tall grass, as they roared in duet there seemed to be only one male responding. With each roar, they seemed to get bolder and made a beeline straight to the one responding N’waswishaka male. Once they had him in sight, they gave chase, and the outnumbered male made a run for it. I guess that was the beginning of their tenure as the new kings of the bush.
It’s amazing how the sound of roars can be used as a non-physical way of determining territories amongst lions.
Over the months we have witnessed these, once shy beasts, transform into the majestic kings of the bush nature intended them to be.