Every week we will be featuring different lions and , we going to start with lions in the Kruger and our favorite coalition the Skybed Male Coalition.
One early morning In May of 2015 while traveling down the H7 towards Satara, we spotted a lone male lion marking his territory, his mane was not well developed yet but we noticed that he had a marking on his leg with a letter C. At the time we didn’t know that he was part of the Skybed coalition.
In December of 2016 we had a 10 day holiday at Kruger, we started our trip by staying at Lower Sabie and we then moved up north and stayed at Tamboti for our remaining nights. Our days involved of good sightings but they were mostly in Satara but on our last day while driving early morning on the H7 we came across 4 male lions with impressive manes laying in the road.
This trip was our time seeing male lion coalition, on our previous trips we would see a pride consisting of one or two male lions and 4 or 5 lionesses and their cubs. So you can imagine how thrilled we were that we saw that many male lions together.
We came back to Tamboti 2 weeks later to spend New Years in the Kruger and on one of the days we came across 2 buffalo carcass on opposite side of the road, we didn’t see any predators therefore we carried on with our morning drive, on our way back to camp we saw a whole lot of cars stopped on the one side of the road where one buffalo was, while we were at the sighting one of the male lion got up and decided to mark his territory and see if the other buffalo was still intact.
When he started feeding on the carcass another male lion joined him, we could see a third male lion where the other two males came from apparently there were 4 in total but we only saw 3.
We assumed that those were the same lions we saw 2 weeks ago because we saw them again in the same area we had seen them previously.
We then headed back home an uploaded our photos on Facebook and shared them on different groups, we found out that the males we had seen are called the Skybed males.
According to research that we have come across the Skybed males they were born in late 2007 – early 2008, they used to be a coalition of 9 males which were fathered by 3 of the old Skybed males and they came from the Phelwane pride in Nagala Game Reserve.
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They get their name ‘skybed’ because they used to spend most of their time by the Skybed dam in Manyeleti.
The male lions split up and made 2 different coalition, which consists of 5 male lions dominating the Tamboti territory and some of the Orpen area, while the other 4 dominate the Timbavati territory.
The coalition of 5 can usually be seen by the Bobbejaankrans view point, we saw them on both occasion there. Every time we saw them we only saw 4 males, it’s believed the 5th male was the biggest in the coalition but he hasn’t been seen since 2015 and his whereabouts are unknown.
The other 4 can usually be seen around the Timbavati picnic area, we haven’t been lucky enough to spot them as we found the area very bushy making it very difficult to spot animals.
The Skybed lions which reside close to Bobbejaankrans are easy to identify because one of the male lions and the one we believe is the biggest lion we have ever seen has a scar under his left eye and his named scarface.
The rest are easy to identify because they are branded with the letter C on their back leg, this is because they were inoculated by a vet due to a rabies scare.
Next time you are in the area keep a look out for them and try spot the Skybed males.
READ THE UPDATE ON THE SKYBED MALES HERE
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*All Images belong to Big on Wild unless stated otherwise