On the 23 of December 2015 we had the most eventful day that we had ever had in all of the years we have been visiting the Kruger.
We decided that morning to travel down the S21 close to Lower Sabie, it was the first time that we drove down that particular sand road. As we took the first turn of the windy road we saw 5 males lions together, it was a day full of firsts because it was the first time we saw a coalition of males!
They walked along the road marking the territory for over a kilometer and later disappeared down a river bank.
We were running on adrenaline for the rest of the day because we started off the day so well that we were not worried if we didn’t see anything else for the day. But nonetheless we carried on driving on the S21 and managed to see a leopard feeding on an impala in a tree, while at the sighting another car told us that there 4 male lions by Renosterkoppies, we later learned that these were the Eastern Bank Males, so we left the leopard in order to go see another coalitions of males.
Christmas had really come early for us, because when we went back and were watching the leopard in a tree, out of nowhere lions decided to climb up the same tree to steal the impala kill, we will do another post focusing on that, but for now you can watch the video of what transpired here.
Today we will focus on the huge male lions whom we saw first, they are the Jock males.
The Jock males consists of 5 males, they were born in 2009, and they get their name because they spent most of their younger years in the Jock concessions area. They are the off springs of the Jock lionesses, they were ousted away from the Jock concession area a few years ago by the 4 Mlambane Males. The jock males like the Skybed males are branded for research purposes and you can find their marking on their back leg.
The first time we saw them in 2015 they had a territory on the S21 and on H3 and they were the pride males of the Kwagga Pan pride and the N’watamhri pride.
The second time we saw them was on the S21 again and we only saw 2 out of the 5 males, and one of the males was mating with a lioness.
The third time we saw them was on H4-1 at the end of a January in 2017, we were driving along the road when we saw a few cars stopped, we at first could not see what they were looking at until we saw male lions coming out of the bushes, 4 male lions in total came onto the road, they were marking their territory but we couldn’t stay long as it was already past the time which the gates closed and we had to head back to camp.
In this past year the Jock males started occupying the area around Lubyelubye and were often seen mating with the Lubyelubye females and they eventually drove out the 3 Lubyelubye males and took over the pride, the female lionesses previously had cubs with the Lubyelubye males, thus the Jock males probably killed the cubs and sent the females into estrous so they could mate with them because the last time we saw them their lionesses had small cubs with them. The new territory of the Jock males is a 10-20km radius around Lower Sabie (see map above).
The last time we saw the Jock coalition was in June of 2017 and we saw them on the H10, they were seen the day before in the same area so we decided to go looking for them, at first we could only see the one because he was sneezing and later in the afternoon when it started raining, the 4 males decided to come out onto the road but quickly moved off into the bush. On both occasions we saw 4 out of the 5.
The average life span of wild lions ranges between 10-14 years, I’m sure the Jock males still have a few more years and more territory for them to invade.
Them being part of a coalition also plays a role in their survival because they wouldn’t make it easy for other lions to overpower them.
Next time you are in the Lower Sabie area do not forget to look out for huge male lions.
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